Howl’s Moving Castle (Book) Review

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I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until last year that I even knew Howl’s Moving Castle was not only a fantastic animated film, but also a book! I found a copy in a 2nd and Charles Free Book Bin and snatched that baby up immediately, and I’m so glad that I did! This book was pure magic. ❀ I feel like if you’re a fan of the Miyazaki film, or if you enjoy light-hearted whimsical stories like The Last Unicorn or Stardust, that Howl’s Moving Castle might just be right up your alley. πŸ˜‰

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β€œIn the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”

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Having grown up in a small hat shop and expecting a very uneventful life due to the social stigma of being the eldest, Sophie has her world turned upside down due to a witch’s curse that transforms her into an old woman. But perhaps the Witch of the Waste’s curse is just what Sophie needs to push herself out of the dull fate she had previously accepted for herself. Setting off to find a cure for the curse inflicted upon her, Sophie winds up finding much more than that. Witches and wizards, shapeshifters and fire demons are only a sample of the strange characters she’ll meet as she is forced out of her comfort zone. She’ll venture to moving castles and palaces and more in an effort to undo the Witch of the Waste’s magic, and she’ll do it with a sassy attitude to boot!

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The characters in this story are all so quirky and fun, and the book has a lovely light and humorous tone to it. I think the whimsy of it really made this book one of those special sort of “Feel Good” reads for me. πŸ™‚ I’m not usually a re-read sort of person (only due to there being SO MANY books out there to be read) but this is one I would consider re-reading in the future.

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β€œIt is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.”

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Diana Wynne Jones weaved quite the enchanting story, so I would definitely like to read more of her work in the future. She was very imaginative and created a lovely fantasy world with entertaining characters to fill it. Apparently there are two other books related to this one, so I plan to check those out one day, too!

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Whale Shark Drawing/Facts

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Drawing by IgnitedMoth (aka: ME!) πŸ˜‰

My favorite shark of all is none other than the whale shark, so of course I had to do a Shark Week post about these docile behemoths. πŸ™‚

As their name would imply, these magnificent creatures are HUGE. On average, a mature whale shark is estimated to reach lengths of 32 feet, and to weigh in at a massive average of 20,000 pounds! (Even larger specimens than that have been recorded, though, believe it or not.) It’s no surprise that they are the largest fish in the world.

Don’t let their massive size intimidate you though, because these sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean. They’re actually filter feeders who use their giant gaping mouths to dine on plankton and some small fish and other itty bitty sea critters.

Much like how two tigers never have the same stripes, no two whale sharks have the same spot/stripe pattern.

Whale sharks have some BIG mouths. (All the better to nom on all that tasty plankton with!) A mature whale shark’s mouth is about five feet wide on average and is home to over 300 teeth. (Again, no worries about them coming up to divers for a little nibble. They’re basically giant cinnamon rolls just floating around doing their thing.) Fun Fact, though: These guys will use their giant mouths to suck out a free meal from the full nets of fishermen. I personally find this hilarious. Way to stick it to the man, whale sharks!

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All in all, whale sharks rock and are to be respected for the mellow and distinguished sharks they are.

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WTF Happened to July???

Jeez, I can’t believe how FAST this month has been going by! I feel like it’s come and nearly gone so quickly already. It’s been a ridiculously busy month, but a mostly good (and extremely productive) one at least. I’ve been working on a lot of too-boring-to-bother-blogging-about-but-necessary-things in my life, so yay for that, but I’ve missed all my blogging buddies. ❀

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Sooooo, since it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to really post anything *COUGH COUGH it’s been over two whole weeks but who the hell is counting COUGH* let’s just go ahead and cover a few quick updates, shall we? πŸ™‚

BLAH #1: So far this month I was able to squeeze some reading time in despite how busy things have been. I got to read some other works by authors I’ve read and enjoyed previously, like George RR Martin’s The Ice Dragon, Emilie Autumn’s short story The Gown, and I FINALLY (after several years) read the third book in Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I also binge-read volumes 2, 3, and 4 ofΒ The Girl from the Other Side and finished reading the last ofΒ The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp. Some of the reads I liked more than others, some I found to be surprisingly not as enjoyable as I’d thought they’d be. We’ll save all that for other posts when I finally get my slacker ass around to reviewing some of the things I’ve been reading lately. πŸ˜›

BLAH #2: I’ve got a current series of shark illustrations I’ve been working on for some upcoming Shark Week posts, so expect an explosion of shark-related blog content from me starting this Sunday. I’ll also be babbling on about shark facts throughout the week because sharks are awesome and learning shit is rad.

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BLAH #3: Kind of random, but if you haven’t watched Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now comedy special on Netflix you probably should rectify that. It’s hilarious. (Unless you are easily offended. Then maybe stay faaaar away from it.)

BLAH #4: Does anyone on here use Audible? I just wonder because I was offered a 2 month free subscription for it for a membership to something else I recently signed up for. I’m wondering what anyone out there that has tried it thinks of it. Is it worth the money? Listening to audio books can be really useful when your schedule is extremely busy. Multitask or bust, am I right? πŸ˜‰

Anywhooooo, that’s enough from me. It’s past 1 in the morning and I’m honestly stunned that I’m even still awake and functioning at this point. How are things in your corner of the world? Any exciting BLAHs of your own you’d like to share? Have a great weekend, everybody! ❀

 

Winter, GTFO!

Uggghhhhhhhh . . . *groans and rolls around in blankets until burrito formation is properly achieved* . . . I don’t wanna get out of bed and go out into the stupid white wonder that is winter. I hates it. I just hates it so damn much.

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I’ll admit, I’m currently lucky enough to have a job that calls everyone off for snow days when the weather is deemed bad enough. That was the case on Monday and I have been frantically checking and re-checking my work e-mails and the school district’s closings this morning to see if that would somehow be the case again today. Thus far, no luck. -_-

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That means it’s nearly time for me to grumble my way out of bed and put on non-pajama clothes (seriously, the worst kind). Meh! Fuck pants! I just wanna use my blanket like a superhero cape and keep my fuzzy penguin PJ’s on forever.

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Sorry, but this post is pretty much just an ode to the suckage that is winter. If you live somewhere right now where you have to shovel, scrape, and bundle up but still manage to have snow soak through your shoes/boots to leave the house, I’m pretty sure you probably understand.

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If you stuck around and read my little tantrum, thanks for letting this girl vent a little. ❀ I’m a firm believer in the power of venting/ranting/letting it all out when you need to. Hopefully spring will offer its sweet, warm embrace soon. πŸ™‚

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New Year’s Resolutions: 2018

Daaaaaaaamn, guys. I seriously can’t get over the fact that tomorrow is the final day of the year. It feels like 2017 went by in the blink of an eye. A lot of things happened and a lot of changes were made, all for the better. πŸ™‚ I feel like this was a fantastic and much-needed year for patching up what was once the fast-sinking vessel that is my mental health. I’m happy to report that I accomplished a lot of important goals I’d set for myself this past year, and that I’m not only much happier, but also much stronger, because of it.

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I had a lot of things I wanted to work on in an attempt at bettering myself and I conquered the goals set before me. Honestly, it’s probably been my best year ever as far as slaying New Year’s Resolutions goes and it feels pretty damn good. I plan on riding that high right into 2018 by continuing to try and better myself. That’s kind of the thing about life, isn’t it? We’re always pushing ourselves, learning new things, and taking new chances.

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So, that said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what exactly my goals are for the new year! I’ve got several themes for my various goals concerning different aspects of my life. Things like reading, fitness, writing, etc. (Knowing me, I’ll probably come up with several additional goals throughout the year, but as of right now, here’s what I intend to work on in 2018:)

Reading Goals of 2018:

  • Finally read the neglected books that have been sitting on my bookshelves, untouched.
  • Venture into reading more poetry.
  • Read 50 books/graphic novels (Last year’s goal was 45, so I upped it by 5.)

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Creative Goals of 2018:

  • Bust my ass to get my writing project ready to start submitting by the end of 2018.
  • Start utilizing art tutorials and online courses to learn snazzy new art skills.
  • Experiment with watercolors.
  • Draw! Draw! Draw! Write! Write! Write!

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Fitness Goals of 2018:

  • Do more cardio, kickboxing, and dance.
  • Drink more water.
  • Find more fun and active hobbies like going to the trampoline park.

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So, that just about covers my personal goals for the new year. πŸ™‚ How about you? Are you planning on making any new year’s resolutions? Did you complete any this past year? I’d love to hear about them! πŸ˜€

Since I don’t know if I’ll have time to hop on tomorrow, let me just wish you all a very Happy New Year! Here’s to what will hopefully be a fantastic 2018! ❀

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Getting Festive

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Happy Holidayyyys! ❀ Today is Christmas Eve and with all the recent and upcoming festivities I wanted to squeeze some time in to pop in and say Merry Christmas since I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to tomorrow. πŸ™‚

Last night we met up with my boyfriend’s family’s for their annual bake-a-thon, where we baked and decorated an arsenal of Christmas cookies. Shapes ranged from reindeer to unicorns and everything in between. Seriously, I mean everything in between. We also had an armadillo-shaped cookie and a penis-shaped cookie because inappropriate baked goods are funny. His mom also made these delicious pastries called Rugelach.

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We’re celebrating tonight’s Christmas Eve at my boyfriend’s parents’ house, and Christmas over with my family so I’m pretty excited. I feel like I did a lot of holiday stuff this year. More than I think I usually do, so while all the running around can be stressful and tiring at times, it did make for a particularly festive holiday season so far. πŸ™‚

Some of the holiday highlights included:

Visiting a historical village’s Holiday Nights event. It was really cool walking around after dark, learning some interesting stuff and seeing the rambunctious β€œmurmurers” in action. I didn’t know anything about this old β€œmurmuring” holiday tradition, but apparently it involves revelers of the season dressing up in disguises to go house-to-house for food and drink and partying it up. So, it’s kind of like Halloween at Christmas for adults, except you get booze instead of candy. Not too shabby, in my opinion. Why the heck did we do away with this awesome tradition?

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Goings to an outdoor Kringle Market and shopping around for lots of goodies, including my new favorite dessert, The Christmas Kronut. This was my second year going, and although the crowd can be a bit much, I plan on going again next year. It was a lot of fun. πŸ™‚

Christmas shopping for my loved ones is always a fun thing to do. I love when you find someone the perfect gift and then seeing the look on their face when they open it. I will say, though: I normally quite dislike wrapping the presents. It’s just tedious. lol My attention span has never been in it. I moaned and groaned the whole way through it, but I think I actually did a decent job wrapping gifts this year. I’m not known for my wrapping skills, in fact, I’m known for purposely wrapping the gifts in a manner that makes it look like a toddler did it. Or a drunk uncle. One or the other.

The work holiday party was also a lot of fun. I’ve mentioned before that I work as a program instructor at a day program for adults with special needs. I love my job every day, but seeing all their faces light up when they got to meet Santa Clause and taking our room caroling around the entire building was just so nice. We sang fun, upbeat songs like Jingle Bell Rock, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc. and had a bunch of fun instruments for everyone to play. We did a big potluck and since I baked a bunch of stuff for the last couple work parties I decided to take it easy on myself for this one and brought in rolls and made a some delicious Garlic Parmesan Butter to go with them.

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Minus some stressful family medical issues that have luckily since been improving, the last month of 2017 has been a pretty good one. πŸ™‚ I’m excited to see what the new year will bring. I hope you guys all enjoy what’s left of the holiday season and have plenty of festivities of your own! ❀

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December Updates

Hello, everybody! It seems I fell off the map there for a bit, but it’s only because things have been extremely busy and especially chaotic this month. Things are slowly, ever so slowly, getting back to normal just as the year comes to a close. Between my personal life and work life I’ve pretty much been in caregiver mode 24/7 and have been feeling burnt out by it, but luckily I have a nice little vacation coming up to hopefully squeeze some rest in and enjoy the holidays. πŸ™‚

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That said, here are just some random updates of what’s been going on as of late.

Update #1: Due to the previously mentioned craziness, I missed out on my book club’s Christmas party this year which was a total bummer. We always wear ugly Christmas sweaters and I had been so pumped to show off my new R2-D2 one. All is not lost, though, since I’m planning on wearing Christmas sweaters to work the rest of this week, so I can proudly display that one, my Deadpool one, and my “Bah Hum-Pug” one. One day I hope to have amassed enough ugly Christmas sweaters to be able to wear one each day of December leading up to Christmas. Mwahaha!

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Update #2: I recently reached my goal of 45 books read for the year, though I’ll admit a lot of them were graphic novels. πŸ˜› This was quite the busy year. I’m upping my goal for next year though and aiming for 50 this time. I’ve even made a list of some of the priority titles I’m looking to read in 2018. Some are new, some old, some are novels, graphic novels, and there are even a few poetry collections in there, too. It should be a pretty interesting year in reading for me. πŸ™‚

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Update #3: I’m seriously thinking about pampering myself during this time off by going to get my hair done. Planning on getting it chopped and colored. Thinking of throwing some purple and/or blue in the mix. It’s been too long since I’ve put any fun colors in it and I’m feeling like it’s a good way to kick off the new year!

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Update #4: Started doodling again. Planning on doodling more in the new year. These are just 2 rough sketches with some highlighter and sharpie thrown in, but I’m hoping to really get back into it in 2018. Maybe even hook up my art tablet again. It’s been a while.

Update #5: I recently got awarded Employee of the Quarter (quarter of the year) at my job. I was really surprised since I’ve only been there a little over 6 months. Woo!

So, that’s it for my little updates. Hope you guys have all been well. I’ll be catching up on your posts to see what all has been going on. Feel free to fill me in on any exciting updates of your own. I’d love to hear about them. πŸ™‚