"If you keep playing it safe, you'll never know who you are..."

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Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
-Amazon

If you ever find yourself feeling a bit discouraged about dreams or falling in love, or any manner of Monday blues...just open up any Stephanie Perkins novel. When I went to Paris, I felt as if the air itself carried a sort of pheromone rendering everyone enchanted by la vie. Isla encapsulates those feelings.

In Isla and the Happily Every After, we finally meet the third and final (?) heroine in Stephanie Perkins' romantic travelogue. Isla is a shy and quirky romantic who gains a shot at a relationship with Josh, the guy she's been dreaming of since she started at SOAP. It's always delightful to learn more about characters we've met in previous novels. Especially when I learned that Josh carries the same affections towards Isla. For a time, Isla and Josh are thrust into a whirlwind of romance, art, and the beauty of taking chances, however, as these moments become slightly unbelievable to Isla, she wonders if it's even real at all.

Josh and Isla's romance is instant, dreamy, and passionate. I share in the opinions of others, to an extent, that it does feel a bit too instant, as opposed to Anna and Lola, which felt balanced over time. That being said, Isla is a genuine romantic, and I'm not sure it would have happened another way. Frankly, as a romantic myself, I cheered that Isla gets this breathtaking romance. I can understand why some would find this to be unrealistic, but I'm of the opinion that for some love is cultivated and steady, whilst for others it may just happen as quickly as an epiphany. I did, however, find them to be a little too angsty at times. Nevertheless, their story, by the end, is so heartwarming.

Isla is something special. I think of a lot of characters I've experienced in novels, she is one of the most like me that I've ever encountered. We both share a love for beauty in art work, and adventurous stories, and curiosities, and fairy lights. I even own my own compass necklace (because one of my own characters owns one in my novel). However, what is more unsettling to admit is that I'm often plagued with a lot of the insecurities that Isla is plagued with. I found myself very surprised and happy that Stephanie Perkins tackles self worth in the way that she does. There are moments where I wanted to shake Isla, but I was stunned because it allowed me to see how insecurity left unchecked can have you fleeing as quickly as your blessing comes for fear that they will leave first. It's awesome to see this in a young adult novel. From the very beginning of the novel, Isla is stuck on Josh JOSH Josh, therefore making it a bit hard to get to know her as a character. After a while it becomes clear that Isla's having issues seeing herself accurately, and I enjoyed the small journey that she goes on to discover herself. I wanted more scenes of self discovery for Isla.

It was wonderful to see Josh away from his fun loving, sidekick persona in Anna. I fell in love with every description of his graphic novel, the fact that he would tackle something so ambitious as to document his entire experience in boarding school. I also found myself inspired to check out a few graphic novels. By the end, I enjoyed Josh' journey towards becoming more dedicated, and seeing things through. Josh is vulnerable, sometimes wearing all of his emotions on his face, and I quite enjoyed this in a male character.

Of the supporting characters, Kurt became a quick favorite of mine, for his ability to be so starkly truthful, and Isla's little sister Hattie for shaking things up, and the wisdom of a short conversation with Isla's former best friend Sanjita.

Bare in mind: Isla and the Happily Ever After contains some sexual content and profanity.

I'm not sure if this is truly the last in Stephanie Perkins' beautiful series ***coughs, Meredith***but I'm a little emotional if it is. It seems I hardly come across series' that are genuine in their portrayals of what could be considered 'cheese' and defiantly hopeful. The moments where we see all of the characters converge in Isla is golden and beautiful...makes me cry! Novels like these remind me why I love reading in the first place, and how very possible it is for fictional characters to transcend the page.

"Hold your head up, Grace. Even when you're dying inside--especially then--hold it up."

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When Grace meets Ian, she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses Zac, the town golden boy, of rape, everyone turns against her. Ian wouldn't be the first to call her a slut and a liar.Except Ian doesn't reject her. He's the one person who looks past the taunts and the names and the tough-girl act to see the real Grace. He's the one who gives her the courage to fight back.He's also Zac's best friend.
-Amazon

I chanced upon Some Boys by Patty Blount one day during my lunch hour, drawn to its cover and excited at the prospect of watching a relationship blossom in the midst of tough odds. I love stories like that. What I got was a heartfelt story of a girl named Grace who is raped by the popular athlete in town, and his best friend named Ian who decides to go against the tide. 

Grace, aptly named, is a wonderful heroine. She endures horrible persecution, after being violated in the worst way possible, with such strength, even in the midst of her own anxiety. She forges forward in spite of friends who have turned against her to gain popularity, and pathetic adults who turn their sights away from a girl crying for help, in favor of who may become the next lacrosse champion. Ian, on the other hand, sits back and observes Grace's pain, until he can't help but unscramble the jumble of scenarios gossiped in hallways. After long, Ian cannot shake the nagging feeling that there's more going on than a girls' vengeful fight to tarnish his best friends' reputation, and he must choose either to side with his friends comfortably, or to stand up and be ridiculed.

Patty Blount has crafted a great story with strong arguments about the sad reality a woman faces when she opens up about rape. Within the first few chapters, I found myself livid, not merely by the lack of support from her peers, but more of her teachers and parents. Perhaps it's obvious, that the adults in her life would have minds just as fickle as her peers, but God help every young woman/man who's ever in this situation if these are the adults 'supporting' them. It's unforgivable that anyone could turn their attentions away from a girl who's obviously traumatized and allow her to be taunted in the hallways of her school. Blount also crafted a wonderful character in Ian, realistically showcasing his conflict over believing Grace, or siding with his friend.

I wished that Ian and his friendship with Grace were more well rounded. Aside from being an athlete, I wanted more of what makes Ian tick. I'm told that Ian and Grace are drawn to each other, and right then, I'm ready for the ride, but I wanted to know what draws them towards each other. It would have been awesome to experience more in depth conversations. It seemed that aside from a few short occasions, they only really talked of the situation at hand. I just needed that extra punch.

Bare in mind: Some Boys contains allusions to disturbing scenarios, rape, and profanity.

There's are only a few things that can stir me up, and 'rape culture' is one of them. It's unfathomable that a man can sit back, his arms crossed lazily over his chest, claim to be strong, powerful, and intelligent, and yet in the same breath claim that any woman, man, or child made him lose control. It is unfathomable that men who are raised to be warriors somehow lack the propensity to control themselves sexually. I'm scratching my head right now just thinking, this issue doesn't need an eloquent dissertation, it only needs men willing to stand up and take responsibility for their actions, and learn to cultivate respect for the people around them. It takes people unwilling to perpetuate this disregard for others. To support their sons and daughters when they vulnerably open up in confidence. It hurts to know that there are people everywhere opening up about their experiences, and being treated as if it's all in their imagination.

Perhaps we have a long way to go, but that's all it takes.

If you, or anyone you know, have been the victim of sexual assault (or would like more information on how to help) please contact the wonderful folks at RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

You're all always in my thoughts and prayers.

"What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person."

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ND Tunes | D'arline by The Civil Wars
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers. -Amazon

Dear Blue,

I finished it! I finally understand what Margo Roth Spiegelman means to everyone!

I spent all summer trying to finish this book (and believe me, this is in no way, evidence that Paper Towns is a boring novel). It's just been one of those summers of noncommittal reading. I also started a book club of sorts with a lovely girl when we both discovered our love for YA...she actually lives around the corner from me, believe it or not. I had recently started Paper Towns, and she had begun a reread of the same, and we both decided that it should be the first of many books in our makeshift club. But you know what happens when you have an obligation to read...it lays dormant at the bottom of my bag, ignored for other novels, left on my bed when I meant to pick it up... Either way, the important part is that I finally finished it during the past week.

Paper Towns by John Green is about Quentin Jacobsen and his unparalleled fascination with the adventurous and enigmatic girl next door, Margo Roth Spiegelman. More importantly, it's a story about a journey towards truly knowing someone.

Everyone has a Margo Roth Spiegelman in their lives. That one person that almost seems mythic in their conception. Floating just above the mundane nuances of everyday life. Any time I surrender to a fevered crush, I look at each guy as if he's the single most fascinating person on the planet, and everything from the velvety tone of his voice, to the sound of his dress shoes on the carpet carries some form of poetry. And then one day, I walk into the communal area on my job, and watch as he nervously sops up steaming coffee frothing over the edge of his styrophone cup, and I realize he wakes up just as disgruntled on Mondays as everyone else does.

One of the most eye opening facets about this novel is how it reveals the ideas we have about people. Fantasies that we often choose over the real thing because it can be more fun to piece a person together like a paper doll, than to deal with someone of flesh and bone with feelings, emotions, and a host of flaws. This is the thing I think I love about John Green the most. He has the ability to make human again the person once untouchable. It's a lot of fun to read novels where the main character attracts that seemingly unattainable character, but it's gold to observe an author turn fantastical ideas on their heads, and make real life that magical thing we all should seek after.

I'll say that I wasn't as moved by this novel as I was by The Fault In Our Stars, but that doesn't diminish the truth it holds, and I recommend that you read this novel at least once.

Also, if you've read Paper Towns, you know how strongly Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass pulses through it. I've never read any of Whitman's work, but John Green has inspired me to jump in. Who knows. Maybe I'll highlight passages and leave it for someone special to find.

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 Hugs and Love, 
 Britta

TWINING NECKLACES | Casting On: My Knitting Journey

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Dear Blue,

I never imagined that I would become an actual, full-fledged knitter. Someone who luxuriated in the feeling of soft mohair between my fingers. Or found air tinged with chestnut wood and fibers calming (Lionbrand's Eau de Parfum). I always thought it would feel like math (or sewing, which seems to me like a florid algebraic equation with an apparatus that could possibly hurt you). But every year, I try to challenge myself to do at least one thing that scares me or seems a bit daunting. Last year it was a Photo a Day project (which, give and take a few days, I actually accomplished). But around the time Catching Fire released (because I can't pass up another moment to be annoyingly enthusiastic about anything Hunger Games. Is there a patch or something...?) I discovered a gorgeous woven cowl shawl that Katniss wears to brave the District 12 winter, and I knew then that this was going to be the thing that got me knitting. I wouldn't believe it if it hadn't happened to me so many times, but sometimes you never know that you want to do something until the sum of all its parts smacks you right in the face.
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From there, I decided to take a trip to Lionbrand Studio, a boutique that's small enough to feel suburban . yet large enough  for me to lose myself in songs on my iPod as I oooh and ahh all the various colors of yarn. There are fibers dyed so vibrantly that it's quite possible that to recreate Celeste blue, for instance, they simply held a skein up to the sky to let the rain do all the dying.  After seeking help from the lovely knitting community on Tumblr, I picked up a pair of sized 10 needles and a buttery yellow skein of worsted weight yarn from Michaels to knit my first stitches. To prime myself, I knit a Starbucks Cozy complete with cables(Though I still have yet to make one for myself what with everyone I know wanting one). I made a hat for my Dad's birthday thanks to a beautiful Knit Kit by Wool and the Gang, and after that, I finally practiced the beautiful Herringbone Stitch so that I could begin the cowl.  photo photo1_zps7d7ee0a8.jpg  photo 374ad74a-fb18-44d3-8fb7-dfb087bdce5a_zpscc48795b.jpg
I assumed that it would take me quite a while to wrap my mind around the intricate steps of knitting this cowl. This was my first fairly large project. Cozies and headbands were one thing, but something to wrap around the human form is quite another dirigible to navigate. That being said, it only took me around two to three weeks to complete! Two to three weeks! You can't imagine how thrilled, stupefied, and fangirly I was to have actually succeeded in this project a mere few months after my initial pondering of whether it was even feasible. Once the leaves start changing, I'll have a better, more up to date, photo of it!

Since then I've contemplated a collection of scarves inspired by books and bookish people I adore (they are a labor of love). I've knitted adorable hexipuffs stuffed with dried lavender with hopes to have a Beekeeper's Quilt sometime next year, God willing, and I aim to start knitting a comfy vest by Emma Robertson as my next human sized challenge.

Knitting carries miniature profundities for me. Katniss aside, I wanted to wean myself off of instant gratification. I wanted to learn patience, perseverance, and experience something full on. What better way to learn than to take on something that requires time and effort?  Knitting has also become a true showing that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Every time I become down on myself about what I think can't do, God always proves me wrong (You'd think my UK adventure would be enough, right?). I'm enjoying creating these comfy-as-oatmeal-in-Autumn pieces with my own hands.

What about you?

Are you starting something daunting? Please jump in! It's impossible to regret it.

If that something you're contemplating induces enough emotion to challenge you, then that means you've met your soul-project. So jump in!

I can't wait to hear all about it!

If you'd like to follow my more daily knitting loves, projects, and reblogs, please visit Twining Necklaces!

Tabi no Tame (or 'For the Journey' in Japanese),

Britta

District Heroes

Dear Blue,

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{X}


Imagine it. You've heard whispers of rebellion in the districts. Murmurs of lowly citizens committing the unthinkable crime of fighting Peacekeepers. You, your family, and friends have already scraped past with the bare minimum, and now President Snow's out for more. More work. More dedication. More blood. Suddenly your "Holo-screens" gleam white, and the images of various 'heroes' who have won the favor of the Capitol are praised as model citizens for their hard work and dedication. What did the Capitol promise them if they played their hand right? They've certainly done a job of swathing their suffering in artifice, but the things they can't mask are the harsh cold nights on the shoreline in 4, electrified fences lining 9 for the 'wrongdoings' of your forefathers, or the weight of coal and concrete as it collapses all around you in the mines... All to cloak Capitol citizens in comforts they never earned. Or maybe it isn't like you think. Maybe citizens in the Capitol can feel the weight of betrayal and injustice on their shoulders as well. Maybe they're tense in the silence of their elaborately designed homes waiting for the Mockingjay to burn Snow's rose garden to the ground.
...
I've had a full night to take in these beautiful propaganda posters that 'the Capitol' released yesterday and it makes me a bit emotional to be honest. Over the past say, ten years or so, I've watched YA adaptation after YA adaptation release, gross millions of dollars, and yet still lack a certain sincerity that comes when it's producers care more about making a dollar than treating the narrative that means so much to the fans with care. This is not to say that Lionsgate hasn't scored hugely with the massive success of The Hunger Games franchise. But from FADE IN of the first film I saw something that I haven't seen in a lot of other epic young adult adaptations: rawness. It didn't feel like a numbing adventure meant to entertain us with huge action sequences for action's sake, or beefed up love triangles, or overly dramatized dialogue. It felt like they were introducing us to a young girl who made an unfathomable decision to save her sister in an environment as lavish as a palace, yet as macabre as a mausoleum. Literally our world as seen through Suzanne Collins, with all of its depth, deception, love, and hope. All of this said, I digress.
The release of these propaganda posters show me that the wonder team behind this franchise truly understands the meat of the story. They understand that as much as we all adore the beautiful love that is Katniss and Peeta (had to go there, cough), it is a story about injustice, and more, choosing to stand against it. The films could never stand true if the producers and actors didn't fully grasp it's profundity. A really great article points out that the producers didn't even showcase the main characters during the week of their first major leak, but instead chose to make a portion of promotion about the citizens who are oppressed. The citizens who are preparing to war against their slave driven Capitol and a desperate president trying every last ditch effort to unite the districts because he knows his days are numbered.
Like everyone else, I wanted a trailer (and thankfully they've promised to end our agony sometime next week...hopefully), but these beautiful WW II reminiscent posters show that the producers care as much for the integrity of the story as we do. That they won't sacrifice quality for superfluous gimmicks. We wanted a great series, and they've decided to throw us right smack dab in the center of Panem.
I hadn't planned on writing this next bit now, but with the last scene of the entire series now wrapped I have to join in with fellow fans all over the world and three-finger-salute Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross, Francis Lawrence, Nina Jacobson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields (the entire team), for believing in great storytelling, and working so hard to give us a truly phenomenal series. (Harry Potter aside--we all know that's a masterpiece!) The Hunger Games series is pretty much my favorite series at this point, and with all of the subpar adaptations out there, I'm not sure I had high hopes for this one. But thanks to these wonderful people, they have renewed my hope that my favorite books can be captured in an elegant and profound way. Words really cannot express how beyond pleased I've been with this series, and I know the next two films will leave me stunned and breathless in the theater (all six times I see it :-).

Love,
Britta


P.S. Did you guys see our fab four huddled together?

My Writing Process (A Blog Tour)

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Dear Blue,

Nothing thrills me more than to be thrown into an ecstatic discourse on literature and how each person perceives his ink ticked journey. I was invited to join in on the Writing Process Blog Tour by one of my most elegant literary friends, Casee of book blog  Literary Inklings and fashion/lifestyle blog The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower.

Here we go:

What Are You Working On?
In my head, I'm working on a plethora of stories with characters who can't seem to stop raising their hands in class all at once. In the practical present, I'm working on a novel and a screenplay for a short film (and also, possibly adapting my novel into a film). Sometimes I find it so hard to choose which medium I love more, films or novels.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
Admittedly, these questions have always been a bit challenging for me to answer, but here's my gander at it. I've always been about entwining romance with Spirituality and slight magical realism. I almost cringe at tacking the word 'romance' down for the various connotations that come with it, but the point at which a man and a woman connect with each other has always been so fascinating to me. That being said, I'm also not a fan of romance for its own sake. I often use what I know of the couple as a springboard for the challenges that each individual character faces. It's so important to me to layer each character with rich depth, and pretty heavy circumstances like abandonment, or rape, or suicide. Again, not for the sake of adding drama, but more so that when God inspires me, the spiritual side will shine through all the more. I want to, hopefully, encourage people who may be going through these grave circumstances that God is there (in even the darkest places), and He loves them. Magical realism is always beautiful and whimsical, and such fun to play with, but it's that spiritual side, the idea (and truth) that miracles happen, that God's presence is, that angels exist, that all of these God ordained scenarios are possible...that in a nutshell is what makes my work different from other's in this genre.

Why Do You Write What You Do?
As I mentioned earlier on, I hope to inspire someone to believe that miracles exist, and beauty is possible in the mire because of God's beautiful love for us. I think I also write to continue to make myself aware of this possibility as well. I love taking myself on journeys that I may not even consider without the help of my imagination.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
And now for the scroll...Most times I will have watched a film, or listened to a song that will get the ball rolling, and once the ball is rolling, all I need is a bus.

I don't know what it is about transportation that suspends my vicious little critic. Perhaps, it's the act of cruising down a highway, my eyes roving over trees and bright skies that gives me permission to trust my instincts and dream up scenes. About 98% of all the ideas I think are pretty awesome are connected to a ride down to the city.

After the words start coming in like fragments, I usually jot them down in my phone before any actual writing takes place. Whilst in Grad School, I re-taught myself  how to write all of my notes in longhand to fully implant myself into the story before sitting to the dreaded blinking cursor. Once the bones are connected, then I can breathe enough to start sorting it all out.

In a nutshell, that is what it feels like to be encased in Britta's imagination.

I tag my lovely writer bud Thesanica of Just Pick One Dangit! Along with being one of the most awesome people I know, she can edit whole manuscripts into masterpieces! She has whipped many of my word into shape, and continues to be a constant creative inspiration!

What about you, lovely writer? How do you work out the kinks to get the beauty inside of you out? If you're a blogger, I invite you to join in on this book tour! Please let me know when you post so I can tag you!

Thanks so much for reading, Dearie!

Hugs and love,

Britta



Fan Letter | Cariad: A Letter to Janssen Powers and Ben Haisch


Dear Janssen and Ben,

When I was little, I got my sparkling red slippers out and dreamed about a wedding to still the stars, and the breath of all who beheld it. My gown would trounce Cinderella's, and I would fight to keep the tears in as the man I had been dreaming of my entire life materialized before my very eyes, my family and friends to witness. Yeah, those were Disney dreams, but I think when you get older, though your Walt Disney heart doesn't diminish, your vision fleshes out, scaling down until it's purified like rain from the sky onto the morning earth. 

I had never dreamed of eloping, never thought that it would be something I'd even consider...until I watched your film (Janssen) and lived vicariously though your photographs (Ben) of Laura and Nick. A wedding can be an all consuming monster of an event that if allowed to, can sap you of your vision and purpose for marriage. As hard as it is now a days not to get carried away with all of the pomp and circumstance, when the time comes, I want to focus on this new step I'm taking with my very best friend.

Laura and Nick chose a wonderful location, and you both captured the beauty of entering into marriage so spot on. At that moment, it didn't matter that they didn't have a conventional wedding, or a host of people around; God opened that forest for them as if it had always been waiting for the moment that they would come together as man and wife. They had the greatest guest of all there (not that God isn't present else where) but how can you not be overwhelmed by His presence whilst surrounded by his creation?

I believe that God calls everyone to a myriad of things, and He's called you both to capturing the moments. Few eyes are sensitive to the things that truly matter: an embrace, a monogrammed bible, tears down a husband to be's face, haphazard whispers, rippling puddles proving that even the rain didn't put a damper on things. I almost wish it would rain on my wedding day so it can be one more thing that, by God's Grace, my husband and I will walk through together.

This letter's a mess of thoughts, but really I just wanted to thank you both for showcasing your gifts, and for helping me to realize that when it finally comes time for me to take that step, eloping might not be as lonely an idea as I previous thought. After all, you have to sit back and face each other when the weddings over...why not start off that way?

Hugs and Love,

Britta

P.S. I'm saving all of my money to commission you guys for the job of bringing the whole thing to life on film!! Just saying :-).