June Playlist

Hello! 🌈

June was a long month full of interesting things, some bittersweet and others were wonderful!

During the first week, we had birthdays to celebrate, and you saw the last of the DIY projects I had done in late March; the dotted sea turtle! It was such a fun and somewhat abstract kind of experiment for me, and I do hope to share more artsy stuff soon! The other birthday was my papaw’s. As some of you know, my papaw on my mom’s side died in 2016 and it’s still as fresh as it was then to all of us, and I don’t tend to share a lot of my personal life on my social media, much less on here, but I had shared a photo I had found a few months ago and wrote something special about him for the special day.

Two weeks later, we had another birthday, which was my nephew’s and he turned FOUR years old already! It doesn’t seem like he should be that old yet, you know?! I mean, he definitely seems older because of the way he talks, figures out things, and the fact he’s so excited to go to preschool in the fall! He’s become a little human now and its crazy how time files with him. I hope his sister grows somewhat slower for us, or we need to take more photos/videos…

Besides these celebrations, I’ve had a really good early summer, despite the scorching weather; it’s been in the upper 80’s and 90’s since the second week and my mom and I keep saying, “we’re only in June! It’s going to be even worse by the time we get into July and August!” Apparently, we’re not alone in that assumption as I saw somewhere, cattle have died in Wisconsin and Kansas, which sounds more like they were neglected, because isn’t the farmers responsibility to provide shelter and water to their animals? I mean, that sounds really shady but I’m not animal farmer.

Speaking of farming, my family have really upgraded our landscaping as I’ve talked about in last month’s post, but my parents have wanted to grow our own food on our property and this year seemed like we could do it, so I have decided on doing a garden tour for July or August, depending on what I have time for next month. I am pumped to get it out to you because I know a lot of people have been curious about it and even though I don’t have any role in the creation of the garden, I thought this could be my way of contributing to the whole thing.

All right now let’s turn our focus to music as that is what this post was supposed to be about, but you know, I kind of enjoy summarizing the last 20 or so days for you, so I hope you like this new feature because it might stay as part of this post.

Here are my Top 20 songs I loved in June 2022. If you want to check out the entire Spotify playlist, click here.

Before I Ever Met You by BANKS
Dark Star by Tarja
SOLO by Jennie
Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
I Don’t Want To Be by Gavin DeGraw
God Is A Woman by Danielle Bradbury
Everybody’s Fool by Evanescence
Die4u by Rain Paris
7 Rings by Ariana Grande
Boyfriend by Dove Cameron
All In by 2WEi featuring Marvin Brooks
My Heart’s Grave by Faouzia
I Want My Tears Back by Nightwish
Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
Boston by Augustana
Let’s Go by Trick Daddy featuring Big D & Twista
Heels by Hysterica
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Angel by Sarah Brightman
Simmer by Hayley Williams

What were you loving this past month?

snowflake

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!

Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.

After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?

I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.

The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!

New release you haven’t read, but would like to

I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!

Biggest Disappointment

This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.

There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!

I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.

Biggest Surprise

Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…

Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!

Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)

For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.

Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!

Newest fictional crush

Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!

Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.

Book that made you cry

Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!

Book that made you happy

One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.

The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.

What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?

By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.

And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.


Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.

Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.

The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!

The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!

As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.

And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.

For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.

I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!

Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?

snowflake

DIY: The Dotted Sea Turtle

Hello!

Since we are only (as far as I know!) going once to visit with family, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. and I created some DIY birthday projects. You’ve already seen my nana’s present, so it is officially time to unleash the dotted sea turtle I did for my aunt and uncle!

This is how the sea turtle came in the packaging; I mentioned in my last post that I was thoroughly surprised that both canvases came together as I don’t believe they were made by the same brand or company. On the left of the photo, there is a peek of this wooden square that they were laying on while in the thin box. We thought it was a strange addition, but we believe it was brought in to make sure the cutouts weren’t damaged in the mail. I will probably use it as a safeguard for my future projects.


What you will need:

  • Canvas – You can search for various types of turtles, but my aunt specifically adores sea turtles, and this was the only one I enjoyed on my hunt.
  • Acrylic paint – I used DecoArt bottles of gold, navy blue, green, and purple.
  • Dotting tools – You can use various household appliances that have a flat surface, but if you’d like to get your own “professional” tools, they are available at Wal-Mart, Amazon and Etsy.
  • Pencil with a good eraser
  • Ruler
  • Damp towels or baby wipes

LINKS:

Sea Turtle Wooden Cutout Style 3 | Dotting tools | Paints: Spun Gold, Navy Blue, Leaf Green, and Regal Purple


Originally, I wanted the sea turtle to be somewhat similar to the pig canvas, so that it wouldn’t be such a difficult process to paint, but I couldn’t find any cutouts of medium sized turtles to fit my vision, so I had my mom help me find another and we agreed on this one. Honestly, the perk of this design was the ridges on the sides, they allowed me to have a better understanding of how big the shell itself would be to the turtle’s face and fins.

I wanted for the turtle to be lifelike but with a mystic flair to him. I actually had two ways I saw this guy in my mind; the first was the turtle mentioned on the film Finding Nemo. I wanted to create him with bits of yellow and brown to make him look the part, but I also wanted to add some shimmer like in “The Rainbow Fish” books without taking it too far. My mother won’t allow me to have any glitter inside the house–much less my room–because of the weird impulse to create a mess! It’s a fair trade as long as I can continue to do more projects in my room! Anyways, I decided to add both green and purple to draw out a bit of color to him to make him unique to other turtles out there.

To start, I needed to map out the shell, and I used both a regular pencil and a standard sized ruler to make sure everything was even on all sides, and I made the lines across the edges of where the shell would cover on each fin and made an even longer line so I could have enough space on his head. Once I was sure of each section, I moved on to figure out how I wanted to design the shell. I was really torn with how I wanted this dude to look, so I needed to see if I wanted to include separate areas like normal turtles have on their shells. They tend to have individual spots all around the outer edges and have a larger section in the middle and this can be on the top and bottom of their shell. So, I made three tiny circles with the ruler going horizontally and by the end, I even had my dad impressed with my little hack!

After I got everything planned out, I began to add the first stage of the dots.

I decided to go with the “bottom” layer first with my medium sized tool in the color blue and instead of using my light-yellow shade like I was going to use; I went with my new gold paint. Something you should consider while purchasing some acrylic paints, they tend to dry lighter than their original hue, so, even though the gold looks nice and shiny when it’s wet, the sheen kind of faded as it dried on the surface, so you might want to consider looking into a metallic gold just in case you end up hating the final result. Personally, I loved the color and I thought it worked really well with the surface of the wood. I only went around the outer part once – I debated whether or not I wanted to continue to the circle I created in the middle of the shell, and I ended up using a smaller dotting tool to cover the middle of the shell in gold.

After I finished the gold part of the shell, I decided to move on with the navy blue. A part of me wanted to add a small group of dots along the face and fins but I didn’t know how it would turn out with the dullness of the gold, I did put some gold in certain areas but for the most part kept it only for the shell itself. Anyways, when I started adding more colors, my initial thought process went right out of the window, and I began to experiment with the larger tools, they are thicker in width, I have some difficulty gripping them, so I tend to back away from them, but for this I wanted to have some fun and gave the turtle fairly obnoxious spots all over his back and even went so far as added them to the rest of him….

When you’re doing these types of projects, accept your impulses because they’re going to win at some point.

If I had any space left over, I just covered it with the green so that it looked like he had algae on him as real sea turtles can have a mixture of algae and barnacles all over their bodies! I didn’t intend for the purple to reflect the barnacles; it was actually a personally choice. My aunt and uncle love the color purple and it stands as an important hue for them so that’s actually my reason for using it but hey, if they want to include that little bit of knowledge to their guests, they can!

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When I was finally done with it, I began to think of names for him. It was to come up with nana’s pig because I couldn’t get it out of my mind–my mom was pretty sold on “Hattie” it was the middle name that we couldn’t agree on! However, I decided to play a little game on my aunt and uncle, since they sort of knew about nana’s gift, I sent a message to them on Facebook, basically explaining I was working on another story, and I needed a name for my main character. This actually worked out better for me because they did not realize what they were doing until we brought it out for them.

I was inspired by a lot of pop culture like Pokémon and The Big Bang Theory with Squirtle and Sheldon, but I also remembered about the Galapagos tortoises, which made me think of Alex Trebeck and his love of the Galapagos Islands, so I made sure to pick out some names that were given to some different types of turtles that are (and were) located on the vast islands, like Rothschild, Duncan, and Fernand. They ultimately went with Nitro, as it is the name of one of their cars!

Well, that’s it!

I know this post wasn’t a proper “How-To” but it wasn’t that kind of project. If it had came in the same design like the pig, it would have been, because there were a lot of lines involved with it. For this, I was able to do whatever I wanted to do with it, and I think that’s the reason why I wasn’t so hard on myself for creating those huge dots on the shell, I was able to free-foot it, get it? If you ever get a canvas like this, I think you should look at it as your sign to be even more creative with everything.

What did you think of my DIY project of “Nitro”? What other designs and/or shapes do you think I should consider doing next?

snowflake

Artist Highlight | For Mallory

Hello and welcome to my newest music series: Artist Highlight!

I generally wanted a space to talk about a single musician or band a month, but back in early April, when I went up north to visit with my family, my cousin’s daughter brought her violin and played us some songs she’s been learning in her class. She did a really great job and after the performance I asked her how she was able to play it and she explained to us in great detail. I hope she continues to play the violin or maybe switch/take on another instrument later on, if she ever does this, I hope it’s the cello! I love the cello just as much as I love the violin.

A little later I asked her if she’d ever heard of Lindsey Stirling before, and she told me no, which really puzzled me but then again, it didn’t, because in school, she’s probably forced to know classic works and nursery rhymes at this stage, so in a way to help introduce her and everybody else who happens to read this, to other violinists!


Let’s start with the lovely Lindsey Stirling.

I didn’t find out about her through America’s Got Talent in 2010, I actually found her on YouTube like most people–but I think I would have enjoyed seeing her on the show a lot! Anyways, the first song I heard was “Crystalize” of course and remember seeing the music video, thinking these two really work together. Although her music was considered hip hop on the show, for this song she had kicked up the dubstep hype that was going around at that time. I was hooked to her channel my whole senior year and honestly believe she cemented my drive for modern symphonic music.

Before Lindsey came into my life, the first violinist I was ever “introduced’ to was back in 2004, this year at its core was a changing time for me. I had just started on my hip hop phase and so I was listening to a lot of unique beats on my own without being heavily influenced by my mother. The song in question was Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” as it features an actual violist on the track, Miri Ben-Air. I remember watching the music video for the song and was stuck by the fact there was a woman violinist. It seems kind of scary that this was the second time I was listening to two very different genres of music together and absolutely loving and wanting more of it. I had begun this a year before when Evanescence’s debut album came out in 2003.

After the song disappeared, I didn’t find anything like it again until around late 2007 or early 2008. I had found these two girl groups from England, bond and eScala. They were not your average girl groups of that time, they never actually sang, they were a string quartet. This was my first show that if you’re a part of a group, you don’t a singer. Unfortunately, by the time I had found both of them, they were on hiatus and honestly haven’t released anything new for a couple of decades.

Later on in my life, this would sort of happen again as I had discovered Apocalyptica, which was originally a tribute band for Metallica out of Finland! They have three celloists and one drummer and they make symphonic metal music. I’ve talked a bit about them over the years. They have a lot of cool songs like “Broken Pieces” with Lacey Sturm and “White Room” with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.

There is another group I found back in 2015 I think, it was when the symphonic metal band Kamelot came out with “Silverthorn” as it was the band’s first album with a new singer. They had a song called “My Confession” and they featured the German group Eklipse and even though they were all woman, I wouldn’t consider them a pop-y, although they have done some covers of David Guetta’s “Titanium” with Sia, and ‘Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, they do like to take risks and create renditions of popular rock songs, and my favorite is still “Weak Fantasy by Nightwish.

Back in 2017, when I was on Netflix, I had found the Han Zimmer: Live in Prague and was just stunned by the fact that this huge music producer was getting together with his longtime friends and putting on shows for everyone. I mean, he performed at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago! How in the heck does that happen?! Anyways, the show itself was absolutely amazing and I will not lie, I totally cried when Lebo M came out to perform some of “The Lion King” songs on stage! There were a lot of elements I enjoyed but I really fell in love with the violinist Rusanda Panfill and celloist Tina Guo. You may already know Tina’s work without even know it as she is the one who did the Wonder Woman main theme. These ladies really play beautifully and definitely recommend that concert to anyone.

I was never truly able to learn to read music nor do I feel the need to play any instrument, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing other artists become so passionate with their work though, it’s so interesting to see these musicians put everything into their work. Whenever I watch concerts on YouTube, I love to see them basically one eye on the maestro and the other on the sheets on the podium in front of them. They tend to have some intense facial expressions and they always seems to change with whatever tempo they are playing at that moment.

If you would like to check out the artists I’ve mentioned and/or any others (because I had an even bigger list to start, but we’d be here forever!) that fit in this post, click here to the Spotify playlist!

snowflake

Book Review: “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer

Hello!

I wasn’t able to reach five books in May unfortunately, honestly, there were a lot of factors that allowed this to happen, and my overall mindset was like, all I can do is move on and see what I could accomplish this month.

Before we go into this, I just want to point out that I’m an ally for the LGBT+ communities! Being gay and/or trans throughout current and past monarchs have been a touchy subject, but for this, ou have to imagine that these people were heavily influenced by the Catholic church. They did not understand a whole lot–but they were definitely not stupid either! They were constantly guided by their priests in everything, including who slept in their beds, so please keep this in mind while reading my review below.

WARNING: I rambled on with this one and there are a few spoilers below, so if you’d like to read this book in the future or want to conduct your own research about Isabella of France without a bias opinion, then I suggest you should skip this post!


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She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

When Princess Isabella is offered as bride to King Edward of England, for her it’s love at first sight. But her dashing husband has a secret, one that threatens to tear their marriage—and England—apart. As Isabella navigates the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, her cleverness and grace allow her to subvert Edward’s ill-advised plans and gain influence. But soon the young queen is faced with an impossible choice, taking a breathtaking gamble that will forever change the course of history.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, Isabella is the story of a queen who took control of her destiny—and the throne.

taken from Amazon.

When I started reading, I thought I was getting an actual biography or a fictional tale of Isabella, but not of Isabella of France. I thought it was about Isabella I of Castile. When I realized my mistake, I wasn’t so upset about it because Isabella has been an interesting Queen to learn about in the last few years. She’s been called a “She-Wolf” since the fall of her husband, King Edward II and relationship with, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. So, I was curious to learn a more contemporary approach about the former Queen of England.

“You will love this man. Do you understand? You will love him, serve him, and obey him in all things. This is your duty to me and to France. Am I clear?”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately with my historical books, I’ve really stepped up my game on collecting notes and random pieces of information throughout my process of reading each story. For Isabella, I took even more notes because there was a lot of stuff mentioned with not a lot of dates to go with certain important events and it was hard to keep everything straight and at times, I really thought about stopping and put it in DNF list.

This is my dilemma with historical fiction (especially if it’s in or around about British history!), some authors are considerate and include an estimate of years these things take place, or they give readers a part one, two, three, where the transition is easier to understand, but with this book I was having to keep track with every year mentioned because sometimes we are thrusted into more than one year at a time so I had to write things down or else my brain wasn’t going to catch up to the things taking place.

I had a lot of thoughts concerning quite a few of contradicting moments that were somewhat odd, for example, you have Edward II engaged in not one, but two same sex relationships with his favorites Piers Galveston and Hugh le Despenser the Younger. Now there is quite a gap until you get into the Tudor dynasty and the crazy stories of King Henry VIII’s quest to have more male heirs, but this is a little bit different. Edward seems to have fallen in love with Piers and Hugh (although the book explains why the Younger Hugh could have been just a puppet of Edward’s former lover Piers!) rather than take another woman as a mistress. History and what is in this book seem to mesh as the barons were aggravated towards their king by giving his lovers more lands, castles, and even more power of the realm than his wife, Queen Isabella.

And then you have the issues with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. He did not rise up against Edward in the beginning but while Roger did desert Edward II while at war against Robert the Bruce, he was considered a traitor for this, afterwards he is arrested and convicted as treason. Now, we have to get into the second part of the drama. Did he and Isabella have a sexual relationship at all? History says yes, and this books also agrees, but there doesn’t seem any proof of when everything started or ended either way compared to the King.

So, when Colin introduces this section, he also makes a point to throw in a scandal that appeared in her father’s court fairly early into the marriage, concerning her sisters-in-law Queen Marguerite and Queen Blanche (both originally from Burgundy.) having affairs with brothers Gautier and Philip d’Aunay of France in 1314. I have to wonder, since it is speculated that Isabella to be the one who spoke out about it, can we really assume she would do the same thing? She talks of the aftermath and where Marguerite and Blanche ended up shunned in convents and forced to take up the habit for the rest of their lives. If she was as desperate to be wanted by love and sex, as it is mentioned, stirring the pot like this would be very damning but again, look at what her husband, the king, was doing out in the open for the whole world (including the Pope!) to see and yet, she’s the one everyone wants to drag through the mud!

It must be done for England’s sake, not just for her own.

This is one thing that you as a reader understand at the start of the entire book. She is a woman, living in a very powerful man’s world. She is considered to be nothing but a consort to her king and reproduce children that will belong to both monarchs. The English and French courts. She is to obey everything her king asks and does of the kingdom.

Unfortunately, marriages weren’t made in love, there could be a time where the couple find love in each other overtime, this has happened quite a bit with royal marriages, but what I’m really trying to get it with this is that everything had a reason, you married a higher individual to gain allegiance and power over estates and money. This happened to everyone, men and women, young or old.

When she and Edward were having children, they would never know what true love is, because they never saw it amongst their parents. Their youngest daughter Princess Joan and David of Scotland were arranged only so that both kingdoms could have peace. We can say David probably took a few mistresses and had bastard children, as this was accepted among the men of the times, but the only righteous thing Joan was able to do was show up as a united front and turn a blind eye on it all or wait for an annulment from the Pope and finally enter a nunnery to live out the rest of her days with a small allowance. She would end up being in similar situations as her mother and former aunts.

And finally, there’s the fact, could Isabella have orchestrated the death of her husband and former king. We go back to the notion of her feelings to Edward at the end of his reign. Did she hate him enough to order people to kill him while he was imprisoned? We will never know the whole story of this question either, but I feel like this one is worse than committing adultery, but that’s just me!

Have you read “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer yet? What were some of your thoughts about the story of this stoic Queen of England?

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