Saturday, June 30, 2018

Descendants and my thoughts


I'd heard about the Descendants movie for a while (I mostly remember hearing about the first more than the sequel). How it was based off of a book series (which I have yet to read), but it's taken me this long to give it a try. Because honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it'd be a little cheesy, a little too young for me.

Yes, it is a little cheesy. And maybe at times a twenty-five year-old woman is not the target audience.

But did I find both of these movies adorable and precious? Yes.

Was I delightfully surprised to find deeper messages under the cheesy adorableness and catchy songs? Also yes.

The first thing I noticed was how the Villain Kids' (VKs) parents treated them, and how it affected their children's behavior. The movies don't just have these elements and not carry through the long-term results/consequences. They slip in little hints. Maleficent exploits her daughter, and Mal, though she's a little hesitant at being controlled the way she is, wants to make her mom proud. We see similar patterns with the other three, but in different ways. Carlos' mother (Cruella de Ville) bosses him around in between mothering him like he's a fragile lamb. It's a twisted mix of controlling and caring, and it was interesting to see how it affected the kids.

At first it was just an interesting dynamic between parent and child, but then when I watched the sequel I noticed the long-term effects that kind of treatment had on the VKs, or at least with Mal, Carlos, and Evie.

Mal struggles to maintain her "good girl" status in the sequel, but her facade cracks and shatters until she can't stand another minute of it, convinced she can't be good. She reverts to who she once was, and it takes a lot to convince her that she doesn't have to be evil.

Evie is similar to Mal, but kind of the opposite. She seems to fit the good of the world better than Mal, but she also seems to be uncomfortably aware that she could easily slip back into old habits, ingrained in her by her mother. She makes Ben promise, before they go after Mal, that he won't let her stay on the island again. She fears she will, and she doesn't want to go back. She doesn't like what her mother had turned her into.

Carlos' behavior is a little more subtle, not quite as up front as Mal's and Evie's in the sequel. He, like Evie, seems aware of how he could easily slip backward. When Mal rants at him about her struggles, she asks him if he ever feels the same, if he just needs to yell at someone.

His answer: Not really, because he knows what it feels like to be on the other end of the yelling.

I swear my heart just melted for that precious boy no lie

His mother's treatment of him became traits he won't use with people he interacts with. His mother yelled at him. He doesn't want others to feel like he did. Like Evie and Mal, Carlos still struggles with the things his mom did.

We even see this with these three in the opening number in the sequel:

Mal: Mother always knows best
Evie: Show her. Pass every test
Carlos: Hear her voice in my head

The tones and inflections they use hint at the weight of this expectation, or this struggle in themselves (despite the song's topic, of course XD). That despite being evil, it's already taking its toll on them in different ways.

But despite the mistreatment from their parents, the potential emotional hurts that are still healing, they fight to become something better, because Ben saw their potential. He saw that they aren't their parents. He sees the feud, the bitterness between their parents and his, and the parents of all the other heroes. He recognized that the VKs are not their parents, and he is not his. He gave the VKs a chance to prove themselves on their terms, and in a way, he gave the same chance to his peers too. He still does this in the sequel too, with Uma (who is also experiencing poor parenting from her mother, though we only see a second or two of that).

Just some thoughts after seeing these movies. It was interesting, a pair of movies that seem Disney-level light and fluffy, complete with music and dance numbers, but it also has deeper messages. Even stories meant for younger audiences can have important themes like these seem to, ones that take things a little deeper, a little darker than you'd expect.

But I think that's okay. Descendants handles it well, weaving these elements in subtly, so they only just peek out, but still affect the characters and their behavior, their fears and struggles, and more importantly, carries through with it. Even the fluffiest of movies can have a grain of truth. They don't have to, but it does add an interesting layer of complexity, and food for thought.

Thoughts? :D What other books/movies do this? Does Descendants have anything else like this I missed?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Once Upon a Time...


Way back in 2011, ABC aired a TV show that told the story of Emma Swan, a young woman who, facing another lonely birthday, is suddenly thrust face-to-face with a kid, Henry, who claims to be her son. It only gets weirder when he takes her to the teeny little town of Storybrooke, Maine, where, according to Henry, is the craziest stretch of imagination that Emma's ever heard:

Everyone is a fairytale character.

And Emma?

She's the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, of course.

Once Upon a Time took viewers on a wild ride, through several storylines over the years, from breaking the original curse, to Emma fighting the darkness within her before she dooms everyone. The show explores the little town of Storybrooke and all of the fairytale worlds, from the Enchanted Forest to the Underworld, meeting all sorts of fairytale (slash Disney) characters.

There's even a spin-off set in Wonderland, with a new cast of characters (which I honestly loved please tell I'm not alone in this). OUAT has a musical episode, in which everybody finds themselves unable to speak without bursting into song.

While the show has reached it's final Happily Ever After, it has a little bit of everything for everyone, basically. It gives beloved tales a twist from their original plots, and there's magic in abundance.

What's also in abundance is what OUAT can teach. It's a saga of hope, how light will always conquer, even when the darkness seems to be permanent. And, especially, how love of family is a magic more powerful than any evil, and how hope can bring even the darkest hearts to the light again.

Family is probably one of the biggest themes in this show. OUAT shows again and again how family, the ones you love and the ones who love you, are pretty much the real magic of the world. They're the ones who can help pull you out of the dark, and who will be there in the midst of trouble. Some of the strongest examples are the Charmings, Snow and David. They know better than most that love beats the dark, and family is your strongest line of defense.

Love of family is something that holds you together, like it does with the Charmings, or Emma and Henry, or Regina and Henry. Or maybe it's not your biological family, but the friends you make, like basically everybody in Storybrooke. Or the people who kind of take you under their wing as a mentor, or as their fellow brother or sister in arms, maybe like Regina and Emma (loosely, I know, but Regina helps Emma hone her magic).

It's a huge theme, that family is a piece of us that comes in all shapes and sizes and kinds, sometimes even in the most unlikely places. They're what help us when stuff gets dark and impossible, and make it possible.


Hope is another major theme. Hope that good will always win, even when it looks like evil has snuffed out even the most precious of light. Hope that even though you and the ones you love are apart, that you will meet again. Hope may be the driving theme of the show, and it's beautiful because it's true. Good will always win. Maybe not the battle, but it will win the war. The Charmings are literally the poster children of this. Snow White, while she's not perfect, very, very rarely gives up. She sees light where others don't. This is also where Henry probably gets his own eye for the light. He sees the good in people when even they don't, and he has hope enough for them too.

But another facet of hope is one of my most favorites, and it kind of piggybacks that last sentence. The hope that no one is ever truly lost. Regina (the Evil Queen) and Rumplestiltskin are the two major examples of this, and both of them have arcs here that are really cool. Regina's turn to the light comes sooner than Rumple's, but it's not a once and done thing. She struggles. She struggles with her temper, and how it can draw her back to the dark. She's grown up craving love and acceptance, and in a small way, even though she's repented, a part of her still struggles for it. But she fights back. She looks to the ones who love her: The Charmings (eventually, in their own way) and especially Henry, the light in her dark who was probably her saving grace. She sees Henry, and she remembers why she changed, and that she doesn't want to go back. She won't go back. Henry has hope that she can be good, and it's his hope that pushes her to be good.

Rumplestiltskin is another story. His descent into darkness is, in a sense, his way of covering for his weaknesses. He's a coward, but he uses magic to make himself tall and powerful, someone to be feared rather than someone who fears. He embraces his darkness, and in turn, it's given him a chain and collar.

His fight with the dark is an arc that stretches over the years, a back and forth battle that leaves a lot of people skeptical, lots even giving up on him. At one point, even his beloved turns away, her hope finally, after so much struggle, finally drying up (and trust me, with a woman like Belle, that takes an awful lot of hope to go through before even she stops). Belle is Rumple's saving grace, like Henry is to Regina. When she's around, he wants to do good, to make her proud. He works hard at helping the heroes.* He surprises others with the light that seems to dwell there.

*(in his own weasel-y way)

But when Belle's not there, the darkness yanks on that chain and collar, and it drags Rumple back. Into a place he's comfortable with, someplace he feels secure when Belle isn't there to anchor him in the light. He sometimes tries to fight it even then, but the dark is so deeply rooted, it's hard. It's dang hard.

It's true for us too. We're all fallen creatures. We sin, and sometimes we want to stay there.

Rumple's soul isn't truly lost. Despite all the wrong he's done, he's seen what the light looks like, what it feels like. And however enticing evil is, however it tries to disguise itself in the name of good, he's clever enough to see the true good. And he fights to reach it, even if he's drowning.

Rumplestiltskin, with all of his faults and crimes, wasn't so lost that he couldn't find his way back to the light again. He hit rock bottom, and sometimes managed to dig deeper. But even those darkest depth couldn't hide him. He was found and he was healed. And that's true for us, too. We're not so lost that God can't find us, even when we dig beyond rock bottom. We just need to be willing to look for the light of redemption.

Belle had hope for Rumple. It faltered once, but it was her hope that he could be good, that he could make something better of himself. She looked past his flaws and saw potential, and she held on until the chain and collar shattered. For good.

THAT is how strong hope is. Because even when a cup is chipped, it's not ruined forever. We just need to have hope that the people we love will come back. And, alternately, remember that even our own chips don't make us broken, not entirely.

OUAT teaches us to always have hope, even when things are dark and seem hopeless. It won't be this way forever, and the light WILL come back. We just need to have faith, and, especially when we need it, lean back on the people who love us, because their strength can help support us when ours might start to falter. It shows us that no one is ever truly lost to the dark, and that even the darkest of nights will end.

And Once Upon a Time shows us that time and time again, which just reinforces the truth of it: Hope, love, and family is the real magic. The magic that really counts.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Heist: Building the Perfect Team

I enjoy books with a heist, or something where characters come together as a team and pull off something grand and clever all rolled into one package. I recently read Six of Crows and that heist was kind of awesome.

Now I'm not nearly clever enough to pull one of those off, but if I needed one done, I'd have to build the perfect team. And so today I bring you my ideal heist team, culled from characters from books who fit the roles I'd need.

.:Mastermind:.
I feel like I'd be cheating if I said Kaz from Six of Crows. That boy knows how to pull off a theft, or a con, or whatever shady business he does. But a runner-up would be Sage/Jaron, from the False Prince trilogy. I swear that boy was beautifully clever, and hilariously witty. His planning got the job done, especially when I usually had no idea what he was going to do (even in first person his plans were elusive!).

.:Hacker:.
I'll need an expert with technology to help with this heist, someone who can work security systems and keep an eye on the team from the cameras, as well as hook them up with sleek and shiny gadgetry. For this person, I choose Cress, from the Lunar Chronicles. She's a wizard in her own right with a computer, and she'd be able to get the team in an out of there without triggering security.

Cress and Celaena, basically.

.:Weapons:.
My team will likely need weapons to defend themselves. Amani from Rebel of the Sands could be an excellent weapons supplier, and teacher. She's an expert sharpshooter. Celaena from the Throne of Glass series would be another, for more quiet weapons. But we'd have to make a rule: no killing. Celaena will need to learn that one.

.:Disguises:.
To get in close to their target, the team may have to do some undercover work. That means disguises and false identities. I would choose Cinna, from the Hunger Games. He turned Katniss into the Capital's star. A girl from a mining town became a glittering jewel of the sleek and shining city. He'd create the right disguises and roles my team need to sneak in unnoticed.

.:Snacks:.
Every good heist needs sustenance. Planning takes a lot of brain power. Sebastian from the Black Butler series would be perfect. He's a superb cook, and would make plenty of healthy meals and tasty treats for the team, and be incredibly polite and sophisticated while doing it (for a demon). Also, he'd be good for more than snacks if his abilities were needed.

.:Magic Specialist:.
With my team's luck, they'll probably run into something magical, or something that can only be dealt with via magic. So they'll need someone who's an expert with magic. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series is their girl. She's smart, clever, and knows her way around a magic spell. She'll keep the team from setting off magical booby traps.


.:The Newbie:.
Everybody starts somewhere. So maybe my team has a newcomer just testing the waters, or maybe they're just the baby of the family, and offers sufficient backup to anybody who might need it. Honestly, I feel like this would also be Cress. She is smol and precious and even though she's feisty in her own way, she's probably still a bit new to heist business. Cress may be the reason we have the backup-planner.

.:Back-up Planner:.
We all know that the first plan is just gonna go up in flames. So the mastermind will need help to come up with Plan B (because he's focused on Plan A). My back-up planner would be Scipio, from the Thief Lord. His cool and collected personality would balance Sage's pretty well, and he'd be grounded enough to prepare a back-up. Because let's face it, that first plan is gonna go up in flames.

.:Treasurer:.
The team will probably need money to prepare for the heist, and know how to distribute funds. And also somebody to keep track of their loot and stuff in general (and keep sticky gingers out of it). For this position, Bilbo Baggins would be ideal. He would also remember to portion funds for food, which is good for the team's snack-supervisor. Plus he's already a veteran burglar, so he'd be handy for more than keeping track of their resources. Just in case the team get in a bit of trouble.


.:Muscle:.
The teen may need a bit of muscle to shoulder their way past difficult security guards, or maybe just a skilled fighter. While the weapons experts of this team are probably the ones for the job, Sam Miracle is my pick here. Besides being another expert sharpshooter, his own arms are weapons. With live rattlesnakes grafted into his arms, they become faster than any human arm. Just in case the team needs a quick knock-out punch or something.

.:Getaway Driver:.
No heist could be pulled off without a getaway plan. My team will need a exit strategy to get them out fast with whatever they're thieving. I choose Elle from Geekerella. Now it's not fantastic (I already used Lunar Chronicles twice, so I didn't want to choose Thorn. ;) ), but who's gonna think to look for the team in a big, pumpkin-orange vegan food truck? Nah, they're gonna target the fast cars or airships. My team will be safely stowed in a food truck cruising away to safety.



There's my team. I think we'd have a fair shot, though I'm sure this team would have a lot of inner difficulties (because Sage is a snarky brat and I'm fairly certain some of the team would try to strangle him). BUT, they could get the job done. And probably blow stuff up. Accidentally of course.

Your turn! :D You have a heist to pull off, so you need a crack team. Who do you choose? What other roles do you think a heist needs? Or what roles here probably aren't needed? Tell me all! Let's chat!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: The Day the Angels Fell (Shawn Smucker)


The day the lightning took Sam's mother was the day the Tree of Life returned.

Yes, the tree in the story of Creation. And the two angels who stood guard over it? They're after it. One wants its power. The other must destroy it. And Sam's in the middle of it all. But the question is what he will do.

This story reminded me of A Monster Calls (the film, mind. I've yet to read the book), with a writing voice similar to N.D. Wilson. Sam's mother is gone, and to a kid barely into his teens, has the chance to bring her back with the Tree of Life. He's grieving, and he doesn't quite find the best ways to release the emotions, and it sometimes puts others at risk.

I liked how at first I couldn't quite identify who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. I was wary of both parties for a bit. I also liked seeing Sam struggle to make choices, and the direction he chooses to follow.

Also, the story of the Tree of Life was awesome. There's the "origin" story, the story we see in Genesis in the Bible: Creation, the Fall, and God setting the two cherubim to watch the Tree of Life.

But the author adds to the story, after Adam and Eve leave the garden. He weaves it in so well that it makes his addition seem like it could be something that happened. Who can know? But it's really neat to imagine: What if the author's addition really did happen?

****
Violence/gore: Some, but it's not in detail. A character dies (but we're aware of the event before it happens), and characters fight.

Sexual content: None

Profanity: None that I recall (if any, it's minor).

Other: Nothing I can remember.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: The Tomb of the Sea-Witch (Kyle Robert Shultz)


After the madness of The Beast of Talesend, Nick Beasley still has some work to do. I mean, he's still a hulking mass of fur and claws and canine teeth.

But now on the run, Cordelia takes them to an island where magic is practiced and honed, Nick will need to blend in... when he has no magic. But his problems don't stop there (because that would be no fun), and troubles arise as they realize the legend of the little mermaid went quite a bit differently than you or I remember...

Another adorable Beaumont and Beasley installment. Nick's sarcastic, 75%-done-with-everything attitude makes me smile nearly every time. And Crispin finds love! It felt a little cheesy, but I love Crispin so XD Also, Crispin's increase of pets was awesome, and had me (and probably Nick) going "how is he getting all of these?" XD The kid has skills, guys. I envy them.

I liked the twist on the Little Mermaid story. It really did get twisted (pun intended), and kept the characters on their toes to keep up with the antagonist. The climax was probably my favorite, like the first book. It was intense and I feared for everyone o.o

The school was interesting, and the Mythfits were hilarious and I loved them. I also really loved his teaching style and I need more of it. XD He snarks and acts gruff and to the point and the Mythfits are just alarmed and so not cool with this new teacher. That class was beautiful to watch.

The antagonist, while we don't actually see them in particular, but them through another character (spoilers ;) ), was intriguing, though it would have been neat to see them physically (maybe another time???).

Malcolm, the school headmaster, was brilliant. He too has an attitude of "done-ness" like Nick, but he's also a dragon, so people tend to avoid pushing his buttons. We also learn a bit more about Cordelia (and we get a little more of their potential looove P) ), and her backstory, which left me with questions.

I still have a lot of questions. O_O

But book three is out, so I'll probably have to snag that one. :3 Gotta make sure the favorites live, right?

****
Violence/gore: Not much. Skeletons attack. There are fighting scenes and injuries inflicted, but nothing is deeply detailed that I remember.

Profanity: None

Sexual content: Two of the cast share a few light kisses.

Other:Nothing that comes to mind

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Happened: 2017


The year ends tomorrow (for me, anyhow). Usually this doesn't mean much for me. New year, whee. I watch the ball drop, I go to bed, and wake up to the first day of the new year.

Is 2018 gonna be like that?

Haha of course not

This girl's goin' to Peru.

For two months. My first time traveling by plane (the time when I was a baby doesn't really count?) and internationally.

Basically there are no baby steps here. This is really new to me and right now I'm trying to figure out what the cookie tin I was thinking. XD But also I'm kind of excited. I'll be volunteering at an orphanage, so I'll be hanging out with kids of all ages. No idea what all I'll encounter, but it'll be an adventure nevertheless.

Similarly, 2017 has been a bit of an adventure? Outside my own circles of life, a lot of political and other stuff happened that I'd rather not go into. BUT, I want to summarize things that happened to me personally. :3 Might be boring for some, but it's a thing people do, yeah?

Writing
Things happened, guys. I FINALLY finished the draft of my fantasy novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow. I got it revised/edited enough to send it to alpha readers for real. That was really fun, actually. I sent it to a handful of fellow writers, including two guys who write, since I have a guy POV and needed to make sure he was, well, being a guy. XD


I've gotten really great feedback. Besides myself, nobody else has read EOBAS, and it was exciting to see what others thought. They've loved it, and they've offered awesome critiques too. I found the majority of my alphas in the Twitter community*, and they've all been so awesome and I'm so appreciative of them for reading, especially when I gave them a 5-million-word** mammoth to read during the school months. XD I'm so grateful they agreed to read and didn't run in terror. Cookies for them all!

*And also the writing community on Twitter is just really great, guys. There're so many friendly people, and I'm grateful for the ones I've met. Even though I may not know them well and may seem like I'm lurking to them XD

**Okay I exaggerate, but it's a TON of words, guys. I have a problem

I also finished another story on Wattpad. :D The sequel to The Empire Thief was finished this year. Both stories were super fun to write. Sometimes they were a mess because I failed to make sure I addressed major things, BUT I made it and it's lovely and I like it. :3

But then after that I've been in a funky writing slump, and I swear it's driving me insane. I hit walls in brainstorming, or I lose the drive to write a story. I did my third NaNo this year too, and even that story was flopping like a beached fish. It was pretty bad.

I'm still kind of in that fog, but I'm organized the feedback from EOBAS that I have thus far, and I'm hoping editing will bring back that spark. Here's hoping.

I've also been exploring the reasons behind why I write. I wrote another post about that. I want to glorify God with my stories, and bring His truths to readers. Even if my stories don't have directly religious elements (themes, characters, etc.). God-willing, the truths they do communicate will spark curiosity and lead them to God. It's been really good to further develop this mindset, and I hope to understand it better in the year to come.

Reading
I read a total of 47 books this year, according to Goodreads. I'm quite proud of myself, even though I didn't hit the 50 goal XD But that doesn't matter. I read a lot of really awesome stories. I listened to a bunch of audiobooks (binged The Lunar Chronicles), read a couple mangas and a graphic novel, and a really cool book that was made to look like an old library book, in which fictional character have written in its margins that tell another story. So it's like two stories in one book. It's a thick read, but it's really fun. :D


I started the reading year by basically binging the Throne of Glass series. Which, in hindsight, may have been a poor choice, but I really enjoyed them regardless of how exhausted my brain was. XD I'm fairly pleased with the majority of the books I read. I tried a few contemporary novels, which left me with mixed feelings, but meh. I have plenty of other fun stories to continue reading.

I've also been reading a few fun Wattpad stories from Twitter friends. :D Here's a few I would HIGHLY recommend:
The Pursuit of Merriment (technically written before 2017, but you'll need this for the following short stories)
Where the Ghosts Lie
Horseman
The Broken City of Crows (ongoing)

All of those are really fun. So if you don't yet know what to start reading in the coming year, I would recommend these. :3

Other
And a random mishmash of things :3

I got my first job of ever.
I worked about ten months at a Walmart, in the Lawn & Garden section. Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for the experience. There were days when I never wanted to come back. Other days were actually a little fun. But it was a good experience. I survived the heat of summer, even! XD I quit just before the holiday madness in November, partly because trying to juggle holidays, work, and Peru prep was something this introvert didn't want to deal with, no sir.

I have a nephew!
And he is the cutest little man of ever and I love him. And also my niece, who had her first birthday this year and that was precious.

Volunteered to work at an orphanage in Peru.
I'm beginning to feel a little nervous, a few days before I leave. XD But it'll be a good experience. I've been learning Spanish, and I have the important words down. It's been kind of fun. The translations get a little weird and amusing. Luis wants a pink spider, and he eats soap. I am concerned for Luis.

Started learning a new language!
Just don't ask me to identify whether I'm talking about myself or you or Bob. Because I still don't know.


What were you all up to this year? :D

Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Review: Dreamlander (K.M. Weiland)


This is my second KM Weiland fiction book, and I really loved this one too. It's a long book, but so packed with activity it doesn't really feel long. Things get more and more complicated, and Chris and Allara have to make a lot of hard choices. Concerning the plot, and concerning each other.

I really liked how they both had a lot of inner demons they needed to deal with, and that those demons affected the plot, too. Chris is dealing with his guilt, and with his relationships back on Earth. Allara's dealing with learning to trust, to have a bit of faith. They spark change in each other. Love isn't a major plotline, I don't think, and I really like that simply as companions in the craziness, they change each other.

Chris is a precious bean who gets into way more than trouble than he probably ought, but I really liked how he has to face the consequences of his actions throughout the book, and not simply deal with the guilt early on and continue on as normal. Consequences don't always show up right away, and I appreciated how Chris had to deal with his actions throughout his story, both in Lael and on Earth.

Mactalde was an interesting villain. His goals weren't complex, really, but rather simple. They were ones I could totally understand (even though he's still a murdering scumbag). But the simplicity of his wants and goals was interesting. He just wants one thing, something that, at the base of it, is something that wouldn't really be a villainous desire. But he tacks on revenge, and that's when he becomes evil.

The worldbuilding made Lael feel both new yet familiar at once. There were new names for different kinds of plants, animals, and foods, but at the same time something about the world was familiar? Or it didn't feel too strange in some ways, which I liked. I wasn't drowning in so much newness that I didn't know my right from my left. Lael firearms were a really cool concept too, using moisture to power them. It and the sky cars kind of gave the fantasy world a little bit of a steampunk/modern feel? Maybe that's where the familiarity stems from.

I was a little confused by how the dreaming/the Orimere worked. At first I thought Chris was holding the Orimere all the time to go between worlds, but then apparently he doesn't, unless he wants to bring something to/from the worlds. So that aspect was a little confusing sometimes, but usually I didn't need to fully understand it most of the time.

I liked the themes and messages in this, too. They're skillfully woven in, but still visible as the characters have their arcs to face and overcome. It their center, it has a very Christian feel, but never states it as such. But that actually makes me like the themes even more, really. God is at the center, but it's not obvious. And I really appreciated K.M. Weiland's skill in this. As a Christian, it was fun to see the themes, but also realize that God is at the center. Redemption is a major theme, I think, and I love how it was explored, even if sometimes it wasn't how I expected.

And, lastly, my favorite character: Orias. I loved this man. I really liked the worldbuilding that surrounded his race, but him in particular I loved. He, like Chris and Allara, is forced to make choices. Sometimes they aren't good choices. But he resigns himself to it. He just needs a lot of hugs and love. I was always looking forward to Orias POVs. XD

****
Violence/gore: There is a lot of violence (seeing as how Chris lands himself in a war), and it gets bloody, but it's not described in excessive detail.

Profanity: If there was any, it was only referenced.

Sexual content: Two characters share a few light kisses.

Other: Chris' father is a drunk. Wine is consumed by some characters.