Month: January 2018

Around the holidays, many people get what’s known as “seasonal depression.” I happen to be one of those people, however, I do have bouts of depression at other times as well. I have not been mentally present/focused in any aspect of my life right now, to be honest.

I am starting to break through and get back to being the self I like to be. I know other people are struggling more than I am and I hope they can fight it and recover, but I don’t want solely talk about this because there are plenty of blogs that have more helpful insight than I do.

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So, to start off, I’ve always been a huge PC person, but secretly wanted to be an Apple girl.

My first Apple product was the iPod Classic. I still have it, though I have upgraded to a larger capacity one. If you have ever used one, I’m sure you’ve loved it. The battery life is amazing and it’s so easy to use. I have also had an iPod touch, but I wasn’t as big of a fan because it didn’t hold much, but I did use it. Now my fiance uses it for his car.

My next purchase was an iPhone 6. Did I intend to use it as a phone? No, not at all. I am a hardcore Android user, and always will be. I honestly got the iPhone because I had a beautiful case I wanted to use. It’s a beautiful case.

However, one thing I had not anticipated was that the crystals would fall off. After the second one fell off (luckily I was able to find them and superglue them back on), I chose to remove the case and use a different one. It’s now sitting with the rest of my rather large Elsa collection.

The next thing I bought was my Mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I happened to be looking on Facebook Marketplace and had seen someone selling one for about $400. James told me that it wasn’t worth it, so I looked on eBay. I found a listing where the person was asking $399 or best offer for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8gb of RAM and a 500GB Solid State Drive. We had offered $350 for it, but shortly afterward the listing was gone. We thought that the person had sold it, but within a few minutes it was up again! We discussed it and quickly decided it was worth the $399, so we bought it. I absolutely love it. It’s what I’m writing this blog on at the moment. I have my essential apps on it, like Photoshop, Word, and Calibre. I found a beautiful case for it (can you figure out what my favorite color is?):

Even though I mostly used my Mac because I fell in love with it, I still used my HP Envy laptop set up as a desktop. Not too long ago, I realized it was slowing down a LOT. James says it’s because it’s an HP, but it’s also rather old and bogged down with software.

Again, this came down to Facebook Marketplace. I have been looking at people selling iMacs because I have wanted an actual desktop to replace my laptop. I saw someone selling a 2013 iMac with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB harddrive for $380. It had been looked at by 130 people, so I figured it would be sold already. Messaging them, they had replied that it was still available. I asked if he would take $300 for it, figuring he would say no and we could negotiate a price. He came back saying that he would take it! I got so excited. I told him I would pick it up that night, and off we went. When I got there, he was still trying to wipe the harddrive, but an hour later it was in the back of my car.

Now it’s all set up, and I love it. I have my essential apps loaded onto it and a beautiful Degas painting as the background. I even have it so that my TV is a second monitor like I had with my HP.

I do have to say that I am loving the Apple products more and more. Even though they are older models, they run phenomenally. My only complaint is that a few of my games don’t work on them, but I figured that. The important games do work.

Now I just need to think of a name for the iMac. My HP was Lokey (Loki, but since it’s a computer, I made it key), my MacBook is Vlad (even with the flowery cover). I might go with Grigori, since it’s a rather badass name. Who knows. Any suggestions, guys?

-Jen

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“The Architect of Song” was my second foray into the realm of A.G. Howard’s writing. I had read online that if I liked “RoseBlood,” then I would also love “The Architect of Song,” and boy were they right.

The summary of the book from Amazon is this:

For most of her life, Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton. 

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

I absolutely loved the romantic aspect of this story. The dynamic between Juliet and Hawk is passionate and very well-written, though I was more partial to “shipping” Juliet and Lord Thornton. As sweet as the relationship between Juliet and her ghost was, I found that I enjoyed that Thornton stood his ground. He seemed like a more believable match for Juliet. Hawk was rather clingy and jealous, though it makes sense as to why he was like that. Maybe I just prefer the brooding male character in stories.

The plot twists were intriguing, though slightly predictable. I found I had predicted a few of them about a page before they happened. However, the twists were very plausible. I did not think they were outrageous, and they made the story even better.

I did have an issue with the slow-paced beginning. I understand why a lot of the seemingly pointless parts were included since they lent to the twists, but it still felt tedious at the time. I think that it would be a better read now that I know all of the twists. A lot of things made sense after the book was finished.

All in all, I loved this book. Howard did not fail to produce a beautifully-written story that engrosses the reader. I am rarely more disappointed in a book being over than I was with this story. I’m excited to read the second book in the series, “The Hummingbird’s Heart.” If it’s anything like “The Architect of Song,” it’ll be fabulous.

 

 

 

You can get “The Architect of Song” by A.G. Howard here.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard is a beautiful book. That was my first reaction when I saw it. It’s just a beautiful book. You can tell extra work went into the design. The text is blood-red and the chapters have very lovely red decoration. The cover is beautiful, almost breathtakingly so. I was given this book as a gift from K. Leigh, and the second I saw the cover I wanted to read it. She had asked me if I had read a book where the Phantom was a female, to which I had responded that I have not. Then, when she surprised me with the book, I was enchanted. As soon as I had the chance, I read it.

The summary from Goodreads is:

“In this modern-day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known”

 

Now, this book was good, but it wasn’t the best Phantom-based story I’ve ever read (that honor goes to Susan Kay’s “Phantom.”) My main issue with the story is that it started off rather slow. I was constantly waiting for something to happen. While the multiple attacks of Rune’s ailment were a bit tedious, I loved the idea that Rune’s ailment was temporarily cured by Thorn’s violin playing. It was a cute way to forge a connection between the two.

I was surprised to find that me and K.Leigh were wrong about the story, in that we had assumed by the cover that the story was about a female Phantom. The Phantom of the Opera is in the story, but it is not Rune, the girl on the cover. This did not affect my opinion of the story, but it was a bit confusing as to why they would show her wearing the mask rather than her holding it, as some of the other cover mockups suggest. According to an interview with the author here, they chose the final cover because it also had ties to Howard’s more popular series “Splintered.” While I understand their reasoning for choosing the cover, and it is a truly beautiful cover, it is slightly misleading.

However, once I realized that the mask wasn’t Rune’s, I expected the Phantom to pull his usual tricks and treat her as he did Christine. We don’t really get interaction between the two until a good ways into the novel, which was disappointing. Instead, the connection is between Thorn and Rune. This makes more sense, as the Phantom is quite a bit older than Rune and Thorn is closer to her in age, but still. Is a story truly a Phantom of the Opera story if he’s a minor character?

I really did like this story. It was a joy to read, especially regarding how pretty the book itself is. Heck, I just bought an autographed first-edition. Would I read it again? Heck yes. It’s a great story. Is it worth reading? Very much so. It’s very well written, minus the slow start.

If you’re a Phantom “phan,” it’s a must-read.

 

 

To get your copy of “RoseBlood” by A.G. Howard, go here.

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