Two Supernatural reads to get you into the Halloween spirit

With Halloween coming up I’ve decided to start reading some old books that reminded me of this spooky, cold autumn time. I dusted off the books I had read as a teen and delved into my shelf of supernatural fiction that fits perfectly with this time of year.  I would devour these books when I was younger, and I was always grasping for the next vampire book, ghost book, witch book. Young adult authors were new to me and it was suddenly all I was asking for at Christmas or my birthdays. My mum, being a book fanatic, was always happy to fuel my excitement. However, since growing up I haven’t gone back to these books for a long time, whether that’s because I don’t have time or I’m reading different things now. Gone are the days where it was all I would read, gone are the night I would stay up late secretly to carry on reading. These days I’ve been widening my reading but – some of these books haven’t changed in my view- they’re spooky, intriguing and perfect for halloween.

The Forbidden Game by L. J Smith

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“I didn’t finish. It’s a haunted house. You run into a different nightmare in every room while you’re trying to get to the top. And you have to watch out for the Shadow Man.”

“Thee what?”  Jenny said.

“The Shadow Man. He’s like the Sandman, only he brings you nightmares. He’s lurking around inside, and if he catches you, he’ ll – well, listen. He’ll ‘bring to life your darkest fantasies and make you confess your most secret fears”  she read with obvious enjoyment.

Intrigued yet? The Forbidden Game is a novel by L. J smith- one of my all time favourite authors growing up. I adored her Night world novels (still forever hoping for her to finish that series) and she also wrote The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle (why, oh why did the TV series get cancelled? I’m still bitter).  I read this so long ago and was pulled into the world with fascination, because as those teens read about the game none of them knew they were about to actually be within it.

If you’re looking for a few spooky reads before halloween, this is definitely one to pick up. It’s like a new take on Jimanji and mixing it with vibes of Pretty Little Liars. Seven teens have to make their way to the top of the dolls house within a time limit to get back into their own world. But is it that simple? Of course not. Each room they face one of their individual nightmares. If you face it, you can leave. If you don’t? You die.

What makes the book is that it goes further than the game, and the teens realise that it’s not so easy to get away from. Suddenly the world is a whole lot bigger, and the idea of demons, visitors and fey have become a reality.

This is a great read for young teens, and an easy read for me now that I’m twenty one. What I did notice however, was that I’m used to more challenging reads now and I definitely noticed this. However L. J Smith continues to be one of my favourites authors.

Carrie – Stephen King

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Now this one was mentioned in my September book buys and I mentioned how I hadn’t read a Stephen King book yet. Fairly recent for my as I’m still reading this one but I’m so glad I picked it up. Carrie is a bullied teen with a religious mother and a hidden secret – she is telekinetic. You can imagine that bullying a girl with powers isn’t going to end well – and it doesn’t for many people within the story line. What I found the most scary was the relationship between Carrie and her mother, and if you have seen any of the two film adaptations – you would know what I mean. Her mother thinks Carrie is the devil, and often treats her that way. She beats her, hurts herself to manipulate Carrie and forces her to prey locked in a closet if she disobeys. When she was just three, her mother tried to cut the Devil out of her daughter but before she could Carrie’s powers showed for the first time…

What I also found shocking is that her mother thinks that menstruation is a sin, and not once prepared her teen daughter for it. In the opening scene Carrie is showering with the other girls in her year after P.E. She gets her first ever period and the girls taunt her because Carrie thinks she’s dying. She’s screaming and flailing about, and the whole thing is pretty horrific. She’s past the age where she should have had her first period, and through the teacher’s thoughts her home life and why her mother hasn’t informed her begins to come under question. It’s just the beginning, because as Carrie’s bullying gets worse – her powers begin to get stronger. With their prom coming up, plans are put into place for Carrie by the meaner teens and everything is about to go wrong.

Do you have a favourite supernatural read? A favourite spooky, haunting read to get you into Halloween? Let me know because I’m definitely still on the look for more 

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What is NaNoWriMo?

If you’re a writer then I’m sure you’ve heard of this term from time to time on most social media platforms. November will be here before we know it, and this term is just beginning to be thrown around. But what really is it? As a reader and writer I found myself wondering this a lot over the years. My favourite Youtubers would mention it, twitter would be full of the term, and I’ve always found myself intrigued. Well, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month” where writers all around the globe join in on this month to write their novel’s daily and track their progress on the official website. It becomes a community as writer’s share their progress, give prompts and encourage others, and it has been very successful over the years.

The event starts on November 1, and writers begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by the last day of November. However it’s not just for starting a novel, as I have seen many writer’s use the month to aid their work in progress. They also use the time after the month to rewrite and edit. As the month approaches, I’ve been doing research on this event as I’m finally in a place where I have a solid start on my novel. The idea of joining in on a community of writers that encourage each other sounds fantastic to me and might just be the motivation I need.

I’ve been writing my own novel for a few months now and with each time I get further I feel like I’m walking on air. My chest is light and I could squee from how excited and proud I am. It’s a wonderful feelings but sometimes you come to a standstill. A little push is in order, I think. 

There has been many success stories that you might have heard of from Nanowrimo. Works such as Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is among the list, a contemporary young adult novel that has done amazingly well recently. It seems to be a fan favourite. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is even on the list too!  If those aren’t incentives to give the event a go I don’t know what is. The Night Circus was written over the span of three Nanowrimos, and is an example of not needing to start something new with this annual event. The story is set in Victorian London and is about a wandering magical circus that is open from sunset to sunrise. I’ve actually not read this one yet (I know, I know) but I’ve seen it advertised since it’s 2011 release and friends often talk about it.

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This next writer has quickly become one of my favourites and if you didn’t know, Nanowrimo was a part of  Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles! A good old retelling is my absolute favourite and these books steadily became a go to on my shelf. I was delighted to find out that Nanowrimo had helped this series, and Meyer has gone on to write six novels – it has been an amazing success.

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So, is Nanowrimo for you? Will you be participating? I’m really tempted to.

To start your own Nanowrimo in November, here is the official website and if you’re following along without the website, good luck and keep going!

Favourite Autumnal Events

We are officially in my favourite time of the year! The trees are shuddering brightly coloured leaves, the air is beginning to cool, the nights will soon darken and Halloween is coming! But Halloween is just the beginning of why this month is my favourite – especially now that I’m in my home town. I have a very big family and one particular aunt, looking at you Lea, is obsessed with the colder months because it means Halloween, Bonfire night and of course – Christmas! Now that we’re into those colder months, my town, my uni town and my family has a few events that I look forward to all year.

October Fair 

It’s so easy to moan about the town you live in, especially when you’ve lived here all your life and moved away for a short time for university. You’ve seen a different aspect of life, and lived in a much bigger place. However, this particular event? I can’t fault. It’s actually in the connecting town, but with a short bus ride or ten minute’s in the car, you’re there. The fair is sat on a large field full of towering rides, all covered in glittering lights and speakers that play loud booming music. Bumper Cars. A ghost train. Big swings. Ride’s that swing you this way that way. Big Stalls to win prizes. Hook a Duck. Throw a Dart. Win a gold fish. And my favourite – the Ferris wheel. From the top seat of that wheel you can look down on the whole of the fair, and it’s amazing to see. Along with that there’s stalls of sticky sweets, toffee apples and bubblegum blue candy floss, stalls of steaming hot drinks and sizzling hot dogs, burgers and chips. All underneath the open sky with the smell of smoke and sweetness on the air.

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A very blurred quick snap from the top of the Ferris Wheel last year

Farm Fireworks

I’ve always loved fireworks, and along with all the events towns do for it – sometimes my family will bundle up in the car and make the journey to the farm, where a large bonfire is built and fireworks are done. This hasn’t been done in a few years now, but I don’t forget how amazing it was. Underneath a white tent food was set out in little pots and a large steel container held warm mulled wine, and the smell would always uncurl into the sharp November night air. We would eat and talk and laugh, different sides of the family coming together after months, and then wait as – usually one of the men in the family – would go set up the fireworks for us to watch.

Winchester Bonfire and Firework night 

This is one of my favourite things to do in Winchester, and the town makes such a big effort. People gather on the old high street with lit torches as a walk begins towards the field where a Bonfire stands. The large expanse of muddy ground was hard to deal with as you curve around people but the bonfire is currently the biggest one I’ve seen. So many people show up, and it’s such a great thing to do with friends. On some stage among the masses of people music plays and a person speaks, but I was always too busy chatting to the people I had gone with. When the fire spread up the Bonfire, it lit up the ground and we all watched happily. It’s a fantastic night, and a great autumnal event.

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Pumpkin Carving

This isn’t an event but the list absolutely needs it. I do this every year without fail, and even though my pumpkins seem to get worse over the years – I always enjoy it. When I’m at home I normally do this with my younger cousins, sat on the floor with pumpkins of all different shapes and sizes around our feet. It’s so nice to see their faces as the candle is popped inside and their little creation has come to life. This year we’re thinking of going to an actual field to pick our own pumpkins as it’s not something we’ve done before.

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That rounds off my list for today, and I’m so excited for these rapidly approaching events!

 

Book Buys, September

September has been all the writing things. Late night scrawls in a lilly white notepad, excited tapping on an old laptop in the dark and daydreaming anywhere I went as I planned and planned and planned. There has been a lack of posts in the past few weeks due to novel writing, and that will likely carry on as I put my book as my number one priority, but I did manage to get my hands on two new books, and a second hand find!

Carrie – Stephen King

With Halloween on it’s fast approaching way, I decided to delve into the darker side of Waterstones and picked up ‘Carrie’ by Stephens King. I actually first came across Carrie as a child when my mum put on the original film, deeming it just a ‘thriller’ and I wouldn’t be scared. Of course she was wrong… but she’d meant well.  I later saw the newest version staring Chloe Grace Mortez. I’m hoping the films live up to the book and I’m so excited to get into this one. It is the story of a young girl with a very religious mother, and a very strict upbringing. She’s bullied at school – in some disgusting and awful ways but what none of them know is Carrie is Telekinetic and it’s all sparked in the beginning or the book. I actually started reading this yesterday, and I can already say I’m liking it a lot more than the films! 

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur 

 This next buy was on impulse after seeing lots of quotes on Instagram. Milk and Honey has been spoken about a very long time and I finally wanted to get a look myself. The words are powerful. They’re striking and shocking and also soothing. In some aspects, even beautiful. However I had a hard time reading them and found this to be because I couldn’t relate, or some of the poems made me feel a certain emotion I didn’t want to feel. 

Some poems are really fantastic, but I suppose I just wasn’t as much of a fan. However, the collection  has done its purpose by making a reader feel things.  
Young Sherlock Holmes – Andrew Lane

I absolutely love going through charity shops or boot sales to find second hand books. Books are expensive today, am I right? And though the books may be a little battered from these places they’re otherwise a great idea. For a fraction of the price you’re getting a pretty sweet deal.  The leisure centre I go to has a little nook of second hand books my nan and I stop by on our weekly trips. I decided a few days ago to actually take one, and put a little donation in the box beside it. There were so many different titles across the table, with some beautiful covers. Books I was interested in and books I would never pick up.  I decided to pick up ‘Young Sherlock Holms’ as something different to the usual I read and I’ll be taking some time to look into this one.

As you can see, my copy does look used and even has that sticker on the front I feared peeling off. The inside however is in perfect condition bar the folding down of a few pages, anyone else do that? I’m quite happy with the find. 

That’s all for this month, a month where I truly didn’t think I would be picking anything up. But you know, you can’t really keep a bookworm out of Waterstones and I’m not even sorry! 

Novel Writing #2

 

I don’t know what it is about night time, but every tap of my hands on the keyboard is surged on by an anticipation that just doesn’t happen in the day. I’m inspired, I’m excited and I’m in a rush to get down my ideas on the page. Music chimes in my headphones, the screen’s light illuminates the keys and my best writing begins to form. I’ve consistently noticed this while writing this week. Which brings me to the point of this post! I recently wrote a post that you can see here, explaining that I’ll be documenting my writing process. And I’m finally ready to write another little update post about how it’s going, what I’ve been doing and where I’m at!

For a very long time now, my novel has not progressed. There were decisions to be made, research to be done. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t totally say that everything is answered but the thing is – if I don’t write, I won’t have a novel. If I don’t make decisions and make the hard choices then I will always be worrying and have nothing to show.

So, after a recent event on twitter – I was surged on to finally keep writing, and I’m so happy that I have. I finally rewrote and edited my openings, switched around some things and my word count has increased since I started writing this post. I’ve kept going, and I’m finally happy with it. I’ve begun to learn to stop worrying about what other people will like or won’t, because if I’m not writing this book for myself then it’s lost all it’s meaning. And I am writing it for myself, so twelve year old me can be proud of the writer I am now.

Now that I’m finally making progress I wanted to share what works for me.¬†Something that has come to my attention is how some people use colour coding, graphs and extensive plot plans to write with. Now, this may sound crazy, but I write when I’m feeling inspired – and that’s the only time I write in large amounts.¬† This means I end up writing scenes that appear in my head and it results in mismatched writing that I mould later to fit in where I need it. I have a basic outline planned out, scenes written down that I want and some character descriptions. This seems to be all I need.

When something begins to feel like work to me, it begins to drag and I lose interest very fast. I fell in love with the way writing makes me feel, how amazing it felt to have my ideas written down and fitting together in a story that would be playing out in my mind. Colour coding? Graphing? That has just never felt like passion to me, and took the fun from it.

I can’t explain how good it feels to be seeing progress again, it feels like

As always I won’t go into detail about my book, but I do weekly Mood-boards with some of the photography or art work that I’ve come across in recent research. Not only do these boards help to inspire scenes for me, but some of them are breathtaking. My first Mood-board Monday can be found here.

That’s it for today’s short post, I’d love to hear about your own writing process. What works for you? What doesn’t?

Let me know, and I’ll be back with a new post soon.

Song’s that have inspired this section of writing

Ruelle : live like legends

Ruelle : War of hearts

Wickd Game (ft Annaca)

SYML – Mr Sandman

 

 

 

Mood-board Mondays #5 – getting ready for Autumn

Not in the spirit for autumn yet? Who am I kidding, of course you are. Halloween, leaves falling, sweet hot drinks and the perfect writing weather. But, if you aren’t in the mood for autumn yet maybe these images will help. It is my absolute favourite season, and I’ve had many of these photographs stowed away on my Pinterest waiting for the right moment to be featured. Personally, I can’t wait to have an Autumn in my home town where I can watch the leaves fall in the forest seconds away and bake Halloween treats with my younger cousin’s on rainy days. I might also feature a short story this Halloween.

But enough of that, here is today’s Mood-board pictures!

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I don’t know about you, but seeing photos of crackling fires, and mugs of steaming hot drinks on a cold day makes me so excited. I have never been a summer person, so these pictures just help further the anticipation I have for autumn. Today it’s rained really hard, and I’ve sat writing by the window wrapped up in a blanket. It’s been perfect, and I’m more than ready for more nights like this.

Some of these photos reminded me that I’d never gone pumpkin picking before, and I’d like to make the effort to do that this year. With no university and no pressure of assignments, I can take my time to enjoy the season a lot more this year.

 

Falling back in love with home

“It’s such a lovely evening,” She said, staring out among the stillness of countryside. The sky was smudged in fluffy pink and whites, bringing the black of night time in the distance. I dropped a stone into the water below our dangling feet, watching it ripple on the surface and smudge our reflections. I nodded. “We need to do this more often.”

It was true. The first of September’s chill meant sitting on the bridge over the Ford with flasks of tea between us, talking till the sun set among the jutting tree skyline. Now that one of us could drive, we made a trip to the river-meets-road stop, and reminisced about a summer long in our past. A summer before becoming students, because now we were going to be graduates. Our final year was over, and we were both learning how to live here once again. Friends before we moved, friends when we moved back. I thought moving away from home for university was hard, but coming back home was harder. It has been a month now, and I still think about my last day.

Packing up my final room, taking down the photographs, the poorly strung lights, and scrubbing a house with the deafening silence left by my housemate’s absence. I was the last left standing and would leave the next morning. Without the sounds of them in the house I felt empty. Hearing sounds of outside life through my open window and feeling the contrast to inside was unnerving.  Needing to fill the speaker-like silence I had music playing, but the realisation that I was leaving in the morning was difficult to swallow. Realisations were creeping their shadowed fingers over my shoulders and weighing me down. I’d fallen completely for the city around me, made memories, made friends and been independent. The prospect of moving back home was terrifying to say the least.

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It took me a while to get back into the swing of things. I thought of Winchester constantly until finally making the decision to make myself comfortable here again. I finally unpacked and rearranged my storage dumped room, put lights back up – poorly again, put my books together on the bookshelf that had been messy for months in my absence, and I started to breathe properly for the first time in days. Having your own space back changes things. Without me the room was dusty and full of mismatched things but being back breathed life into it again. It gave me the leeway to take myself out and start appreciating where I live properly because for the foreseeable future – I’ll be here for a while.

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Taking time to go around my family and making sure to catch up with them was a really great way to settle back in. I sat with my grandparents, who as soon as they saw me shoved a drink of alcohol into my hands, as custom obviously. We sat in their living room, the warmth of the fire they’ve had for years warming our skin and the lights in their cabinets blinked on. Their fat ginger cat sat between us, and they joke bickered at each other and it was genuinely just lovely. The familiarity was welcome. I took my younger cousins’ to the park, or spent days covered in flour as they haphazardly baked, giggling and telling me rambling stories as they tipped the cake batter onto the kitchen counter.

I’m quite lucky to live in a place that has countryside just a hair breadths away from me, and I took our dog out on early mornings through the woods, earphones in, or late in the evening over the green.

I got back into the routine of drives with my friends’ while sharing our music tastes.We spent evenings playing horror games, all slumped on a bed with the lights off. It felt like the summer before university, where everything was about to change but we wouldn’t know how or what our lives would be like in three years . I made visits to my favourite pub again with them too. When you live far away, you forget how wonderful it is to be closer and be able to do this more often.

In fact, when you live away from home it’s very easy to forget all the things you once loved. You’re in a different routine, you’re caught up in another town, another life.

I’ve begun learning how to like mine here again.

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Like Ashes

Shuddering seasons, picture perfect landscapes and winter white hair. Striking blue eyes, a kingdom crushed underneath Spring’s rule and twists I didn’t see coming. Snow like Ashes surprised me.

I hadn’t read anything by Sarah Raasch before but her cover drew me in – the idea of a land split into Season Kingdoms gave me serious ‘The last Airbender’ vibes, and I had always pretended to have season linked powers in games when I was little. I wanted to find a new fantasy novel that had battles and strong characters, while also having a distinct character voice, this book seemed perfect. After reading the first page or two for a check I knew I was going to like it. This is something I do religiously to know whether the writing style is something I can go with – even if it does mean standing in Waterstone’s for too long (but who doesn’t stay in Waterstones way longer than necessary, am I right?).

The book opens up and we’re given a low down on the world-  a band of Winterian people escaped sixteen years ago after Spring killed their queen and took over the kingdom. Twenty five escaped, eight remain. Among them is sixteen year old Mather, the last royalty of Winter and their king, and orphan girl Meria. Told from Meira’s POV we see them sparring together in the books opening and it becomes very apparent that they have feelings for each other. We learn from Meira’s thoughts how they were brought to safety with the escapees as babies. We also learn about the relationship between her and Mather, which pretty much opens the book. This is later interrupted by five of their group returning from a mission, and we are introduced to this group of Winterians, fighters desperate to free their people from underneath deadly hands, survivors weared by age and forced with the task of raising and training the babies they escaped with all those years ago.

In reference to them being raised, Meira describes that their leader, William and Sir to her, refuses to let her prove herself. He is also adamant she never calls him father. This intrigued me, and I knew from the beginning there was more to it there (you’ll have to read to find out what I mean) and it would be revealed later.

We learn that in order to save their kingdom they need the locket that their dead Queen owned to restore magic in Mather . These objects, which every king or queen of a kingdom has, is named a conduit. It enables that person to be stronger through it. Their Queen’s was shattered in half.

It is next that we see Meira’s true character, a desperate need to prove herself useful, brave despite her youth, and wanting of attention from the only father figure she has.  Without revealing what happens Meira accompanies the group on a mission and unfortunately leads soldiers back to their camp, forcing them to move and seek help in a nearby kingdom, where ruler Noam is selfish, cowardly and calculating.

I did get a tiny bit confused with all of the Kingdoms, and found the world hard to get a perspective on, but the descriptions carried the narrative.

As mentioned, Meira wants to prove herself and comes across as a vey head strong female character with an almost boyish charm. I fully expected her and Mather to begin a long struggle of loving each other and trying to find ways to be together – but in comes Theron. He is Noam’s son and is being used as a pawn with Meira to link the kingdoms through marriage. It was here that I began to wonder where the plot was actually going, and would have liked a clearer plan. Later, none of Noam’s plan goes right once Meria uncovers his true plans, but that’s all I’ll say.

Now, I am all for Prince Theron who secretly resents his cowardly father and loves the arts more than war – but I did have an issue when we are given a scene where him and Mather, in simpler terms, have a ‘pissing contest’ over Meira. I inwardly growned while reading their fighting scene. Not another love triangle. So many young adult books have done this and it’s overplayed. But I was pleasantly surprised when that didn’t take forefront in the narrative, and we focus more on Meira as she’s abducted by Spring and imprisoned among her Winterian people. People who are hopeless and abused day in and day out, and people who come to think of Meria as their saviour.

I was even more surprised when the person that attempts rescuing her is Theron (more of him, please) and not Mather. Theron gets caught on purpose to force his father to fight. With someone like Theron, I was waiting for the author to kill him off (not that I want this – like I said, more of him please). He is such a warm character for me, with layers to his personality, and I was happy that he did not.

What all of this did do however, was make me wonder who Meira would end up with. I wasn’t quite sure where Raasch was going with it all, but I liked not knowing and still not knowing even at the end. Mather seemed colder than Theron, and was weighed down with the weight of his title. I was worried that the love triangle would be predictable, but I was pleasantly surprised. I hope that the next book carries on like this, though I’m worried it will not.

When Meira is seeing another kingdom or coming towards a castle, the descriptions gripped me. I saw it so clearly, as if I was right there with her and the world the author has built up is imaginative and brought to life with a pleasant ease. When we see the Winterian people enslaved by Spring, you feel for them, and Raasch isn’t afraid to show violence, pain or the reality of enslavement. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing.

Have you read Snow like Ashes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

Mood-board Mondays #4

Eek! Today marks a whole month of these posts, and I couldn’t be prouder.  I’ve been sharing some really interesting pictures each Monday and from the response they’ve had you’ve been liking them too! Today I have a special favourite artist to share with you, along with the usual images you can expect to find here. With writing your research can take you anywhere, from music, art, films or photography and that’s what these posts are all about.

Without further delay here is the artist for you.

Jonas De Ro

I came across this concept artist a few years ago and loved his work. De Ro has worked with many companies such as Warner Brothers and his talent is really very obvious. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of his work underneath and decide for yourself!

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As you can see, some of these images are stunning and if you’re interested in viewing more, you can find his facebook page right here.

Next up is some general art and photography that I have come across within research or my weekly scrolls. Enjoy!

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That’s all I have for this post today, but if you’ve seen anything you like – check out my Pinterest. I’ve just started one as a way to show where I’ve been finding my inspiration. I’d love to know what you think of today’s post, and I’ll be back very soon with some more!

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