TBC Blogger of the Month!



Hey readers, I just wanted announce that this month I am Teenage Blogger Central's Blogger of the month! I am so excited! It is such an honor to be featured by them. I am really grateful for this opportunity. If you don't already know about TBC then you need to check it out because it is a totally awesome community for teen bloggers. Anyways, thanks for reading, stay awesome!
-Vivian

Underwater Art Video

Hey readers! I discovered this amazing video of how one artist creates artwork underwater, with interaction of sea life and the water itself. It's super beautiful, you need to watch it.

Things I'm a Little in Love With

sketchbooks
warm sweatshirts
sushi rolls
mermaid doodles
flowers
pinterest photos
baseball caps
slippers
dark nights
the sound of rain
early mornings
tea
blog comments
fountain pens
sock monkeys
words
virginia woolf
when people remember little things about me
silence
being home alone
dancing
singing
books
stamps
letters
lowercase fonts
piano music
all of you readers

hold on through finals guys, and remember the things you love
-vivian

All the Bright Places Book Review

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a contemporary realistic fiction story about a boy and a girl. They embark on the magical, extraordinary, and dangerous journey of life. Finch sees Violet, and Violet sees Finch. And the fact that they can see each other with open eyes is what brings them together. They wander, and Finch gently coaxes Violet out of her shell so that she can live again. Finch is alive, but he's not sure how long he will, or wants to, be around. Every day for him is a fight to stay on solid ground, to stay awake, alive. They want to live a perfect day, to see the bright places, and remember that time on earth means something. And maybe it's worth more to live every day to the fullest than to have many meaningless ones.

SPOILER ALERT

So I went into this as a person who doesn't usually pick up romance novels. I don't know, they just aren't my thing I suppose, and I feel like a lot of the time they are more cheesy than heartfelt. And I'm going to tell you this was heartfelt. Whew. I had to sort of sit and remember who I was after that one. I'm not lying when I say I was in a bit of a stupor for days. So don't say I didn't warn you.

But this is a beautiful, beautiful, book. It's like pure emotions in words. You really feel it. And it's a wild ride. You're up, your down, hopeful, terrified, broken, excited. It's a rush. And I loved it. Let's talk about the storyline a bit.

Girl meets boy. Typical right? Not when it's Theodore Finch. Finch is this guy who sees the world in an incredibly human, incredibly original way. As in he's looking at it straight on and he sees it for the magically extraordinary dusty place it is. He wants to live it. And life's not easy for Theodore the Freak. He's in and out of his house, his room is his home, but so is the road, the swimming pond, his old, beat up car. And every day he searches for a reason to keep living. To convince himself he's not just filling up empty spaces. He thinks about death, he takes hold of it, examines it. Theodore Finch rejects labels. He is his own person. And he's searching.

Violet is living in a static, fear ridden world after the death of her sister and best friend. She doesn't go places, she has extenuating circumstances. Creative writing, once her passion, her calling in life, is thrown to the back of the closet to gather dust. She associates herself with troubled friends, people she doesn't need, doesn't want. And eventually she finds herself up on a bell tower ledge, shoes in had, staring down at the ground far below, and then up into the face of none other than Theodore Finch.

The newspapers and classmates say it was Violet who coaxed Finch down. Nobody knows it was the other way around.

These characters are AWESOME. I love them. They have so much character building, so much depth, they are so fulfilling to read about, and you don't get to understand everything. The quoting of the Waves in this book is so full of foreshadowing and meaning. The wording was beautiful, it was inspiring, challenging, self reflective. Wonderful.

The middle of the book was everything I could ever want it to be. Until they started getting serious, if you know what I mean. Then, I felt like their relationship was sort of lost. I'm not sure if the author meant it to be that way, but it was a little sad for the reader. Like you just didn't get as much of the actual Finch-Violet interaction.

When Finch ended up throwing himself to the depths of the Blue, I wasn't sure how to even live my life anymore. Violet following his clues left for her was painfully remorseful. The author really got that feeling across, I applaud her so much for this job well done. I felt that melancholy, bittersweet tug on my heart as Violet stepped in Finch's last footsteps, realizing there would be no more.

I wanted the ending to be satisfying, but it wasn't. In fact, it was utterly heart crushing. But that's what a suicide is. And the people who pretended to love Finch when just days before they had been ridiculing him? I can't even say anything about that, it tore my heart in two. I think that the author really dug deep, really reminded us how important it is to help, and love, and care. These are people, just like us. In fact, sometimes they are us. So we need to reach out and extend helping hands and understand.

When you finish this book, you take it with you. It carves itself into your heart, a little doodle of a violet and a bird with a plus sign between them. You find yourself hanging up sticky notes on your walls and quoting books you've read. It's a beautiful thing. This book is truly a Bright Place.


What did you think of All the Bright Places? Comment down below!

Zoku Milkshake Recipe


Hey readers! It’s Vivian and Geneva (check her out at A Touch of Sparkle, her blog is super cute), and today we have done a little collab post about a fun, easy and healthy recipe! If you didn’t know, we are sisters, and live at the same house so we do a lot of activities together. For Christmas we were both given a Zoku milkshake maker. These are so cool, and we’ve already found so many uses for them! They essentially make any drink instantly into a slushy or milkshake. Pretty sweet! This is a really simple milkshake that has no added sugar or sweetener or anything, just plain old, healthy ingredients easily found around the house. It’s satisfying, with a chocolatey taste and perfect for breakfast, a quick snack, or healthy dessert. This recipe is best made with a Zoku at hand, but if you don’t have one, it can also be done just as deliciously by using a frozen banana (make sure to peel it before you freeze) and some ice when combining in the blender.


Ingredients (makes one shake)
-one spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
-a good amount of milk (we didn’t measure it, just sort of poured it in)
-a large scoop of peanut butter
-one banana (frozen if no Zoku)
-chocolate chips (optional- only recommended if making a healthy dessert, not breakfast)
-ice (optional-only with no Zoku)



IMG_1908.jpg


Milkshake Recipe


  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender
  2. Blend thoroughly, so that the mixture is totally liquified
  3. Pour into cup or Zoku (if no Zoku, finish here and enjoy!)
  4. Use the Zoku spoon to mix the shake and scrape off of the sides of the cup, as instructed by the manual
  5. When mixture is nice and frothy and frozen (approximately seven minutes, more if a thicker texture is desired), enjoy!
  6. For an extra treat, crush chocolate chips and sprinkle on top

Alive in the Rain

the sky
it opens
for me
for you
for the first time in a long time
the world is clean
fresh
alive
awake
green
i feel it stirring
under cold, shoulder-drenching feet-soaking life-giving water
i breathe
i drink
i splash
i'm wet
and alive
alive again
stirring
awake
breathing
alive
droplets of water
dripping
down strands of hair
into rubber boots
and old sneakers
dripping
breathing
alive
awake
stirring
growing
drinking
wetness, cold, soaked
pleased
refreshed
clean
thank you
-vivian


-i am so happy because God has finally blessed us with rain here in CA. we have been in a drought for a long time and the el niño (we have been waiting for the rainy season, which is called the el niño) is finally here. it is wonderful, i love the rain, and i love seeing the grit get washed from everything. thank you God.-

Leibster Award



Wonderful Abby from Abby and the Pens (check out her blog she is amazing) nominated me for the Leibster award (thank you so much Abby <3). I am so stoked to do this because honestly, I love answering these things and I feel really special being nominated and all. 

So here are the rules:
1) Link back to the person who tagged you
2) Answer all 11 questions
3) Tag 11 bloggers who have less than a thousand readers
4) Ask them 11 questions
5) Let them know you've tagged them through social media

Ok, so here are my questions and answers!

1. Last song you listened to?
Ooh, um, well I was listening to a lot of Fun songs earlier today, I can't remember which one was the last one I listened to...I think it was One Foot or Why am I the One (I love Fun- their music is awesome).

2. Favorite Children's Book?
This is so hard, but I'm going to have to go with Wind In the Willows, if that counts. I have a beautiful illustrated version with watercolor paintings in it, and I love the language. But I suppose that's kind of a chapter book so my favorite picture book is probably The Giving Tree.

3. Inspirational Quote?
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you've always imagined."
-Henry David Thoreau

4. Ice cream or cupcakes?
Ice cream totally. 

5. If you could live anywhere for a month where would it be?
Middle Earth of course.

6. If you could eat lunch with anyone who would it be?
I'm going to have to say all the bloggers I've gotten to meet. It would be so fun to hang out with you guys and talk and plan posts together. It would be an awesome lunch. 

7. If you could instantly speak one language fluently, which one would you choose?
Well, I'm learning Spanish right now so it would be kind of handy to just instantly know it. It would also be great to know Tolkien Elvish, just for the heck of it haha.

8. What are three things/people that inspire you?
1. Books
2. Pinterest
3. Other bloggers

9. When was the last time you laughed and why?
Well I was laughing pretty hard today while reading auto-correct fails...I know I waste my time sometimes but they were really funny and I was dying.

10. What is something that makes you happy?
Looking through my sketchbook, having cool shoes to wear, and my dogs all make me happy.

11. The best thing about blogging so far?
Probably just the joy it all brings- the comments and the feeling of getting new posts up, I just love it all and I think about it all the time.

Ok now I have to think of 11 questions, here we go-

1. What's your favorite board game?
2. Favorite sandwich?
3. Any pets?
4. What superpower would you have if you could have any?
5. Favorite breed of dog?
6. What's the font on your blog called?
7. Who's a role-model in your life?
8. What's your lucky number?
9. Favorite season?
10. Favorite book (or if you are like me top 5)?
11. Early Bird or Night Owl?

And here are the eleven people I tag (some of you may have already done it so sorry but you can do it again if you feel like it :)

-Nadia from Coffeessions
-Zelus from My Hopeful Pencil
-Vanessa from Simply Me
-Nadia from Not Yet Defined
-Wanda from We Heart Dreaming
-Geneva from A Touch Of Sparkle
-Shelby from Every bit of Lovely
-Sydney from Sydney's Website
- Elly from A Little Sparkle
- Adelaide from Down by the Willows

Whew that was a lot! Thanks for reading everyone!

Falling Kingdoms Series (Books 1-4) Review

Falling Kingdoms  is a high fantasy series by Morgan Rhodes, who also writes under the pen name Michelle Rowan. Falling Kingdoms follows several people, princes, princesses, rebels, commoners, sorceresses, who are all poised on different alignments of a vastly complicated battlefield. It escalates quickly in the first book, the murder of an innocent wine-sellers boy from one of the three provinces starts the snowball rolling, and soon enough two of the countries in the three country land, Palasia and Limeros, have joined forces to take over Auranos. And underneath all of the fighting and politics lies a mere legend, four crystals called the Kindred, lost in the land, that allow you to wield all the elemental magic and become an equivalent of the god. But nobody seems to be able to locate them, let alone use them.

SPOILER ALERT

Falling Kingdoms was by far on of the best series I read this past year. It was thoroughly thought out and meticulously planned, and no subplot or minor detail was left unanswered. I found it very interesting to read a book from multiple sides at once, and I loved the idea that one side could never be all the way right. I was intrigued by the first book, captured by the second book, enamored with the third, and by the fourth I pretty much breathing Falling Kingdoms. The characters were all excellent, their personalities and decisions closely correlating with backstories and emotions. I enjoyed the lack of solid love triangles, instead the romantic interest was easily and quickly shifted, like in real life. The differing perspectives also gave you insight on things that were going on with other characters, and lies that were being told and believed, which was wonderfully infuriating.

The characters were all stupendous. My favorites were definitely Cleo and Magnus, I liked how their strong personalities continually clashed after the forced marriage. I also loved how Magnus often had a sarcastic or witty comment in his thought process. I found Jonas the most boring to read from honestly, but I found myself laughing the most when reading from him. Lucia was a joy to read sometimes, and a burden others. I found her the most interesting during Alexius's brief appearance. In the fourth book she was obviously very confused, and I often felt more pity for her. I really was enjoying the relationship between her and Cleo, and was disappointed when it shattered. I hope the friendship is brought back in the fifth book. Lysandra, I was so sad when she died in the fourth book. I actually think that was not a good choice, because she was a very strong character, and the specific mission she died doing seemed essentially just an excuse for her to die. She did't really get a reward for dying, just was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So that was sad. Felix was...interesting. By the end I really liked reading about him, but in the beginning I was a bit more suspicious, like Lysandra. I thought for a while he might be the fire kindred, so when Kyan made an appearance I was surprised. I must admit that I grew to hate Kyan almost as much as I hate King Gaius. But even Gauis, whom I was sure was evil to the core, showed a strange snuffed out heart when speaking of his lost love from the island. Rhodes was really able to convey depth and complexity throughout each character, and I don't think there was a single static character in the whole series.

The concept was creative, taking the typical country versus country siege and turning it into  a full scale chain of events involving three different lands uniting into one under a single, tyrannical king, who approached each subject differently and strategically in order to gain power. I liked Mytica and all it's provinces a lot, and I liked reading about them. The Kindred of course brought in an interesting twist, as did the watchers and elemental magic. I liked how the lust for the magic interweaved with the political conflict, hinting at ulterior motives and differing levels of hunger for the crystals.

King Gaius I absolutley hated, and all I can say is that he had better be dead after that fall, otherwise I'm going to be pretty frustrated. I'm happy that Magnus and Cleo fell in love after all, there was sufficient foreshadowing to get you to believe it might happen but enough squabbling and negativity to make you a serious doubter. Go Magnus! Lucia becoming pregnant threw me for a loop, that was a clever one, especially since Alexius was dead and unable to help her (poor Alexius!).

Bringing the Kraeshian empire into the mix was something I originally thought a mistake but then understood as the story progressed. Now I understand completely, and I'm simply dying to know if they will succeed in conquering Mytica. I don't like Amara much, but I can understand why she behaves in the way she does, and part of me hopes that she ends up taking over the Kraeshian Empire (not Mytica) because those people need a woman ruler to slap them back into reality honestly. The sexism in that kingdom makes me sick.

The fifth book is coming out in 2016, and all I can say is that it better hurry because I don't know how long I can wait. I need answers!




Did you like Falling Kingdoms as much as I did? Who was your favorite perspective to read from? Comment below!

Wanderlust- Entry for Teenage Blogger Central Contest

wanderlust (n): A strong desire to travel.

"when we are in the act of wandering, we need to be present, not watching it through the lens" -theodore finch

"you're off to great places! today is your day! your mountain is waiting, so...get on your way!" 
-dr. suess

the pull of the globe calls you
the unseen places
the unmet people
untasted foods
newness
lusting after the experience of not being totally safe
a little out of comfort zones and carefully drawn circles
surrounded by new people
new breath
you wander through the forests
the eye openers
the oceans
you wonder what is the meaning behind so many license plates
the words they spell
for you know they do indeed spell stories

you can only feel totally vulnerable in that wonderful way
when there's nothing to protect you
you immerse yourself in the other
the other than comfort
and that's where you find your space
wandering is much like art-
it should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed
you choose

coffee and hot chocolate from different sides of the globe, or perhaps different sides of town stains your notebooks
where you chart your carefully unplanned travels
with a graphite pencil and a watercolor paint brush
leaves and pebbles and shells
stuffed in pockets
glued to pages
momentos
you leave something behind in return
a thought
a movement
a promise
a whisper to the cold air surrounding you

trees and campfires are home to the wanderer
they don't judge by location or comfort
the entire earth is worth every second
the busy streets and cheerful hubbub of cozy cafes and different languages cover you like a blanket
understanding is another luxury
that you don't need
you can revel in curiosity
and unanswered questions
this beautiful planet is your true home
and you love her
for she cares for you
teaches you
and she beckons you to the unheard of places
the dangerous
the complex
and mysterious
step on the ledge
she whispers
live it like you mean it

you whisper back
I am afraid
she replies
do not be afraid, for as long as there is sun in your hair and flowers at your feet
you are safe
for if the sparrows are given what they need,
then you will surely be given yours as well
by the one who made you
who made me
who made this
be pleased that you can walk his earth
you are blessed
so don't ignore it

the planet dreams
and you breath with it
up and down
a single, solitary, relaxed motion
for even the earth must sleep

a backpack carries
everything
your postage stamps and watercolors
only what you must have to live can wander
you are given the gift of lightness
and freedom from want
the creeping, vicious woman want is
is forced to disappear when you decide to ignore her

your hiking boots
or sandals
or maybe bare feet
touch places
that in turn touch you
an impression forever engraved in your chest
for all the notebooks in the world can't record the moment like your mind can
the stamp of where you've been
your hand is an empty passport
so go
fill it up
be free and wander
give in to the whim
the will
the why
give in to curiosity
push fears away
roam the earth as she was made to be roamed
walk the road less traveled with your sand-dusted heels
sing a song unsung with a dry tongue and smiling lips
tell new tales with a worn out ink pen and an only slightly crumpled notebook

go
be free
get lost
wander

-vivian



an original art piece also by vivian, to accompany the poem and to be accompanied by the poem




Sketchbox Number Two!

I just got my January Sketchbox in the mail, with a few new things to try that I have absolutely no idea how to use, haha. I'm really excited about the chance to learn new materials that Sketchbox has presented me with, and I'm stoked about the materials. So here they are!

Here's what it looked like this time.

Here's what it looked like when I opened it

I got these neat watercolor stick things- pretty cool.

Here's what they look like

Here are the papers it came with (descriptions of what each thing is, and the artist's bio)

Here's the featured artist for this month- so neat

I got these super cute art "trading cards" they are really samples of really nice watercolor paper, and I'm excited to do a trading card!

Here's this neat water brush-pen thing that allows you to control exactly how much water gets on your paper when blending, which is super nice.

So that's what I got for the January Sketchbox- all pretty neat stuff that I'm very excited to use!

New Years Updates

So it's a new year. I think the new year is such a fun fresh start, so promising and open to do with whatever you make of it. So I think for the new year there is some new stuff we should cover about this blog.

You've probably noticed a bit of change in the design, I went the all-white look with pops of color, I think it makes it more sophisticated and professional looking. If you have any tips or feedback on the design feel free to give it, I want to know what you guys think about it.

Another big thing, I have made a brand new blog button (much better than the old one in my opinion). If you have my old button on your blog I would be really happy if you were able to update it, but no worries if you don't.

Also you may have spied the new pages on my blog- the Library page is all my short stories, so feel free to read those and be sure to comment and give me tips on how I could make them better. The covers and harmonies page- there's a good one. That one is some covers and stuff I've done recording on my new keyboard, and also with my voice. Some are classical, some are totally modern songs, some are worship, so check that out and listen in if you feel like it.

I now have a blog survey. It is located on the sidebar. Please take that so that I can get feedback on how I can make this blog better.

Last but not least, I finally got a Bloglovin'! So follow me there if you have it, I am excited to see the new blogs it will bring.

Anyways, I am super excited to embark on this blog as of 2016! And I can't wait to read all of your blogs! If you have anything to say or add or any suggestions, please comment! Thanks for a great 2015 everyone!