What I Read… vol. 8

It seems like I do my best reading in two weeks leading up to SUYB… I finished these the first week of August & I’m currently reading three different books.

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I made a new image to explain my reviewing method…

On to the books…

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden | ★★★★/5
Summary: With Christianity spreading throughout the land, old guardians are awakened and troubled at the edge of the cold Russian wilderness. When disruption puts Vasya’s people at risk she must repair and protect the world they live in with the world that protects them. | Why I Read It: I think Olya praised this book on her blog and put it on my radar so I used it for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: This story was a powerful mix of feminist rebellion and uniqueness celebration and mostly-good verses very-evil and family loyalty and protectiveness. I’ve never read a Russian fairytale-esque novel but this story didn’t disappoint. It was a slow read for me- I felt like I needed to reflect on each season of weather and Vasya. I also found myself totally smitten by three different characters, one being a monk and one a demon. Ha. It was a long, good, well flavored story and I really enjoyed Vasilisa’s courage and spirit throughout the whole thing.
You should read it because… you’re in the mood for a unique and beautiful tale about a strong and unique girl from the coldest forest of Russia.

Intrigue in Capri by Ashley Weaver | ★★★/5
Summary: While on holiday in Italy Amory finds herself drawn to a new mystery. | Why I Read It: As I’ve mentioned, I love the Amory Ames series. | What I Thought: Released as a Kindle Single, this was a short little mystery possibly released to tie us Amory&Milo-lovers over until the next book. It was a very quick and cute read. Little mystery but lots of charm from the Ames duo. It took me all of 30 minutes (maybe) to read, so it certainly was a nice way to pass some time.
You should read it because... you’re invested in the Amory Ames series.


So here’s where I’m at with the challenge:

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I have 45 points now.

What did you read this month? Link up Steph & Jana!

Life According to Steph
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What I Read… November 2016

I’m finally linking up with Steph and Jana for ‘Show Us Your Books’ (tomorrow ) and I’m so happy about it! I started doing book reviews at the beginning of this year and I’m ashamed that it’s taken me this long to join everyone for the best book-day of the month  🙂

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If you’re new here this is how it works: I review the books in the order I read them. I start by summing up the book in a sentence or two, then I tell you why I picked it.  I share what I thought about it and whether or not I’d recommend it (and why)! Each book has a star rating:

Book Rating

So let’s jump in! (Images linked to the GoodReads page.) I finished two this month… *face palm*

Fairest by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★/5 fairest
Summary: Queen Levana is the evil queen, but even she has a backstory that may explain why she is like she is. Was she always “bad” or did something happen that shaped her path? | Why I Read It: This is #3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles and my brother & sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday. | What I Thought: I haven’t seen Maleficent, but I imagine this is similar in that it gives a back story to the “evil queen.” Levana didn’t have it easy and I thought I might go into the fourth and final Lunar novel with some understanding for her because of a touching back story. I didn’t gain much sympathy for her, but I loved the story all the same. I don’t think you were really supposed to feel sympathy- I think this was just an explanation to her violent tendencies. I also really liked putting more pieces into the puzzles of other characters like Cinder and Dr. Erland
You Should Read It Because… you’re making your way through The Lunar Chronicles and this comes next. I wouldn’t skip this one- it’s satisfying to see things come together.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez || ★★★/5 wench_book_review
Summary: Set in the mid-1850s, this is the story of four black slave mistresses and their struggle with loyalty, love, freedom, and family. The women come together each summer at Tawawa House, a northern resort in Xenia, Ohio where slave masters bring their “wenches” for vacation. The story is based on a real place and time in our history. | Why I Read It: I picked it for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: I don’t typically pick out books about slavery or the Holocaust because I hate that humans are capable of such cruelty. That said, we will repeat our history if we don’t educate ourselves. I’m floored that this place existed. This story was hard to read. There was no happy ending, similar to the fate of most slaves in the 1800s. Just on the brink of the Civil War, this story makes you question whether or not you would risk it all (including your life or the lives of loved ones) and make a break for freedom or if you’d continue to live under the thumb of a white tyrant. And if you did choose to stay because of family or loyalty or out of fear, would you have had the strength to survive? It’s a heartbreaking look at a heartbreaking time in history.
You Should Read It Because… you’re fascinated by human behavior and/or the pre-Civil War time in history. This book isn’t easy to read. It’s not PG.

Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge:
|5 points| Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long: The One by Kiera Cass
|10 points| Read a 2016 finalist for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
|10 points| Read a brand-new release: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
|15 points| Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
|15 points| Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
|20 points| Read a modern retelling of a classic: Winter by Marissa Meyer
|25 points| Read a book with an alcoholic beverage: The Whiskey Affair by Raymond Armstrong
|30 points| Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name: Tender Grace by Jackina Stark
|30 points| Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects: Etta Place by Gail Drago & Etta by Gerald Kolpan
|40 points| Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book: After Alice by Gregory Maguire & The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory.

Starting strong with a solid 15 points. Lol.

Still working on The Joy Luck Club. Haven’t had much time to read lately.

Can’t wait to see the other posts in this link-up!

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Life According to Steph

What I Read… August 2016

Last time I mentioned that I was going to switch it up. This is a trial run so if you see something you like or dislike versus my old format, please let me know!

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This month I finished 3 books. Pictures are linked to their GoodRead’s page. Here’s the grading curve:

Book Rating

Ok, Let’s do it.

Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver || ★★★★/5 Death_Wears_A_Mask
Summary: Milo & Amory Ames find themselves back in the midst of marital strife and cheeky murder. Together they must make a decision about their future as well as help to solve the case of missing jewels and a masked murderer. | Why I Read It: I read Weaver’s first book & just knew I needed to read #2. | What I Thought: I really love Amory and her crime solving intuition. I felt like she was a little less helpless and damsel-in-distress-y in this book and I appreciated that. I also found myself liking Milo more. The murder had me guessing all the way up until the end, though there were some loose ends with certain characters that left me unsatisfied. It was light and quick, but a smart, fun murder mystery!
You Should Read It Because… it has likable characters, it keeps you guessing, & it has a touch of British humor. Bonus points if you’re a fan of the 1920s/1930s era.

 

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne || ★★/5
Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_childSummary: This story picks up 19 years after The Battle of Hogwarts. We’re reunited with Harry and friends and we meet Albus, HP’s middle child, then embark on a new adventure to save the wizarding world. | Why I Read It: Um. Duh. #Potterhead | What I Thought: I tend to think of the HP books and movies as two separate things. I guess I’ll have to think of the play as a third “thing” because I just couldn’t get on board. All of Harry’s 4th-year-angst was channeled through his son this time. I felt like this was JK’s chance to explain time travel, highlight Harry’s adult flaws, and prove all the Ron/Hermione haters wrong. The story felt forced. I’m so sad to say that… I did love Scorpius Malfoy, though. He was perfection.
You Should Read It Because… you’re obsessed with Harry Potter. Anyone else wouldn’t understand the plot. Then again, I could’ve lived without the continuation of the story- so do whatever you want.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan || ★★★★/5 the royal we
Summary: A story detailing roughly 8 years of royal love and loss between passionate Bex and regal Nick, as well as their loyal friends and quirky families. | Why I Read It: I think everyone has this one their to-read list… I love the real royal couple and this book met a requirement with Erin’s reading challenge. | What I Thought: I mentally had three stars assigned to this book until the last hundred pages- it seriously sucked me in. It’s a very long read, but it never lost my interest. The length of the book gave me time to get to know and befriend every character. Even when they messed up royally (pun intended) I loved them and hoped for the best. There were twists that I didn’t expect and betrayals that I couldn’t have predicted. It was long, but it was worth it.
You Should Read It Because… you’re actually a hopeless romantic who secret googles pictures of Kate Middleton and the perfect royal children. Or because you’re looking for a light-yet-fulfilling end-of-summer read.

. . .

And now an update on Erin’s Reading Challenge:

| 5 points | Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages: Cress by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Read a book that starts with the letter “R”: The Royal We by Heather Cocks
| 10 points | Read a book with five words in the title: The Lady of The River by Philippa Gregory
| 15 points | Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover: The Selection by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | Read a book with twins as characters: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | Read a book from this list of books made into movies: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
| 25 points | Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit: Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (England)
| 30 points | Read a historical fiction book: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
| 30 points | Read a music related book: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
| 35 points | Read a book originally published over 100 years ago: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 

So I’m at 120 out of 200 points. This is the best I’ve ever done- I’m a little more proud of myself than I should be… ha.

What books did you read this month? What’d you think of HP and the Cursed Child?

Linking up with Carolann & Michelle/Cat/Alison for Reading Lately.

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What I Read… June 2016

It’s July! This month my baby brother is getting married and we’re going on vacation and I only have one five-day-week at work! But let’s talk about some books…

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Here’s the reviewing system:

★- terrible | ★★- I finished it but it was a struggle | ★★★- not bad, not my favorite | ★★★★- a good read that kept my interest | ★★★★★- I’ve already bought the book for my collection & I’m recommending it to everyone

I’ll also tell you why I read it, what it’s about, and whether or not you should read it. The book images link you back to their GoodReads pages.

This month I finished two books and two short stories. That’s waaay better than last month 🙂

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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★★/5
This book is the second in the Lunar Chronicles and I bought it because I loved the first so much! (I finished Cinder in March.) This story takes us to France where we meet Scarlet Benoit who’s trying to run her grandmere’s farm after her sudden disappearance. She soon comes across Wolf and their quest to find grandmere sends them to Paris, where she eventually runs into characters from Cinder. (I don’t want to spoil this book or Cinder…) I loved this book- mainly because I loved meeting the new heroes and heroines and having more character development from Cinder characters. I could predict some of the twist while others caught me completely off guard. Be warned, this book has a little more violence than Cinder. I spent two hours reading the final +150 pages in one sitting… I don’t know the last time that happened. If you liked Cinder, chances are you’ve already read Scarlet. If you haven’t and you’re into fairy tales or Once Upon A Time or anything fantasy, I would recommend this series to you!

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The Queen’s Army & The Little Android by Marissa Meyer || ★★★/5
Similar to Cinder & Glitches, these were mini stories written to give a little background to the Lunar Chronicles. (The order to read them, as suggest by Meyer, can be found here. And a free copy of both stories can be found here.)

I think that Wolf/Ze’ev/Z and Cinder have very similar stories of how they came to be orphans and then how they were turned into something they had no desire to be. It adds depth and reason to their decisions. The Queens’s Army is pretty violent and icky, but I think it’s necessary to understanding the story of Wolf.

I didn’t necessarily care for The Little Android, though I think it was a (bitter)sweet little story that fell right in line with the other Lunar books. This short story didn’t have much to do with any of the main books (as far as I can tell), but it gave insight to some androids’ “faulty” personalities. (Also, it took half a beat but I realize this novella is a play on The Little Mermaid. Duh, Audrey.) If you’re reading the Lunar Chronicles, I’d suggest reading these little stories, too.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs || ★★★/5
I bought this book years ago because the cover caught my eye in a bookstore. I’ve tried to start it multiple times, but it never held my interest or met my expectations. With the film coming out in September, I finally had a little extra motivation to create the characters in my head before Hollywood did it for me. (I’m not the only one who hates that, right? Book-Hermione and film-Hermione are very different.)
This book is about 16-year-old Jacob and his quest to first understand his grandfather, then decide what he path he will take in life. The cover of the book suggests a haunted, creepy vibe (IMO) but the story doesn’t really go in that direction. Overall, once I got into it I enjoyed it. It didn’t blow my mind but it kept my interest so for that reason I would recommend it if you’re a fan of the YA fantasy genre. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll read the second & third book in the series.

. . .

Today kicks off Erin 5.0’s Summer Book Challenge! In case you forgot, here are my picks for the next four months:

| 5 points | Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages: Cress by Marissa Meyer *
| 10 points | Read a book that starts with the letter “R”: The Royal We by Heather Cocks
| 10 points | Read a book with five words in the title: The Taming of The Queen by Philippa Gregory
| 15 points | Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover: The Selection by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | Read a book with twins as characters: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | Read a book from this list of books made into movies: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda *
| 25 points | Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit: Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (England)
| 30 points | Read a historical fiction book: March by Geraldine Brooks *
| 30 points | Read a music related book: Wicked by Gregory Maguire *
| 35 points | Read a book originally published over 100 years ago: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott *

(The * marks books that coincide with the private challenge I’m doing which ends Aug. 31st.)

Right now I’m finishing up The Help, then diving head first into some of the challenge books!

Are you participating in Erin’s Challenge? It’s not too late to join! What books are you reading this month?

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I’m linking up with Michelle, Cat, and Alison for Reading Lately!

Reading-Lately

Books, Books, & More Books

It’s book challenge time again! Let’s skip over the part where I tell you how bad I am at completing the challenges. Instead, let’s just talk about the books I hope to read in the near future. Today I am making my selections for the summer Book Challenge by Erin 5.0.

Book Challenge

(I’m skipping Megan’s Semi-Charmed Summer 2016 Book Challenge this time, but if you want to participate you can find the rules here.)

Someday I really, really hope that I finish a challenge- specifically Erin’s. Until then all I can do is pick my titles and try 🙂 If you like reading, please join us! You don’t have to devour books at a super human pace (obviously)- It’s all just for fun!

Erin 5.0’s Book Challenge runs from July 1st to October 31st. (Rules are here.) Here are my picks:

| 5 points | Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages: Cress by Marissa Meyer *
| 10 points | Read a book that starts with the letter “R”: The Royal We by Heather Cocks
| 10 points | Read a book with five words in the title: The Taming of The Queen by Philippa Gregory
| 15 points | Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover: The Selection by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | Read a book with twins as characters: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | Read a book from this list of books made into movies: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda *
| 25 points | Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit: Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (England)
| 30 points | Read a historical fiction book: March by Geraldine Brooks *
| 30 points | Read a music related book: Wicked by Gregory Maguire *
| 35 points | Read a book originally published over 100 years ago: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott *

In addition to Erin’s Challenge, I’m currently participating in a reading competition with friends from Arizona. (We’re keeping track via spreadsheet on Google Drive.) Five of my books (*) match up with that challenge and will have to be read in July & August because that’s when the challenges overlap.

I’m so glad to have these lists and categories to push me to read more. Thank YOU to Erin (and Amanda & John in Arizona)!!

There’s still plenty of time to join the challenge with me! What books do you plan to read this summer?

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What I Read… January 2016

I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally write one of these. I’ve never done a book review on this blog (cue embarrassed emoji) so I guess I need to figure out a way to properly express my opinions. First I will assign stars based on how I felt overall about the book:

★- terrible | ★★- I finished it but it was a struggle | ★★★- not bad, not my favorite | ★★★★- a good read that kept my interest | ★★★★★- I’ve already bought the book for my collection & I’m recommending it to everyone

Next I’ll talk about why I picked it out, then I’ll give a super short summary of the book, and finally I will recommend or not recommend the book! All the pictures will link to GoodReads so you can add them to your own lists if you’d like. Sound good?

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Here’s what I read in December/January:

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling || ★★★/5
I love The Mindy Project & I love Mindy Kaling so I decided to start with her first autobiography. This was your typical comedian-penned book and a quick read. I laughed out loud and learned a little about life in New York, but overall it was just another cute, funny autobiography. I’d recommend it for anyone that loves the Tina Feys/Amy Poehlers/Mindy Kalings of the world.

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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury || ★★/5
I’m a big fan of Halloween and I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. Sadly, I didn’t love it. It was a short read, but the writing style was odd. (I’ve never read Bradbury, so this might just be his style of writing?) This book is probably best read aloud or at least around Halloween… Honestly, I think this book might make a better movie. (There was a cartoon released in 1993 that I’m determined to track down.) If you love Halloween you should read it, but if you don’t care then don’t bother.

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Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver || ★★★★/5
I guess deep down I just love a good murder mystery. This was Ms. Weaver’s first book and it was mid-century perfection. I loved the characters, the setting, and the plot. I’m a huge fan of Clue-type mysteries and this story didn’t disappoint. I’m already on the hunt for her second book. (I think a third one comes out this year, too!) I definitely recommend Murder at the Brightwell!

Books I gave up on:
The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan (In the past I never gave up on books, but it just doesn’t seem right to torture myself with something that’s supposed to be pleasant. So this year I give myself permission to walk away.)

Books I’m currently reading:
Bossypants by Tina Fey (I have been slacking for a long time.)
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell (Again, this has taken me too long. I’m ashamed.)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (I just started this one.)

This marks the end of my Semi-Charmed Winter Book Challenge 2015. I’m happy to say I scored a total of 15 points out of 200. Not great, I guess…. Last time I got 0 so I’m pleased with myself. #SCWBC15

Erin‘s challenge started last month and I’ve got one crossed off the list and another started! I changed one book from my original post so it’d jive better with my old list…

5 points | Any book that is at least 200 pages long: Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
10 points | Begins with the letter “D”: Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
10 points | Four word title: Murder at the Brightwell (Ashley Weaver)
15 points | One of the following words in the title: mother/father/son/daughter/children: Daughter of Fortune (Isabel Allende)
20 points | One of Amazon’s top 100 authors (new to you): The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan)
20 points | Set in any country in Asia: The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
25 points | A “Season” in the title: The Winter Queen (Boris Akunin)
30 points | Read a book that will make you laugh from this list: How to Be A Woman (Caitlin Moran)
30 points | A friend or family member’s favorite book: The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
35 points | Published the year you were born: Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton) -originally publish 1990-

I have completed 10 out of 200 points!

Have you read any of the books above? What did you think? What did you read this month?

I’m linking up with Michelle, Alison, and Cat for Reading Lately!

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Winter 2015 Book Challenge #scwbc15

I’m going to try this book challenge again with Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life… Last time I got a total of 0 points. (HA!) I’m much better at the movie thing… Anyway, I just found out I will be husband-less for a week and a half next month (#businesstrip) so maybe I can really crack down and read some books!

(For the sake of your health and mine, let’s not hold our breaths.)

Ok, the rules can be found here, but basically the books must be +200 pgs (unless noted), no double-dipping in categories, I can only choose three re-reads, and I can’t start them early.

So here are the requirements and my choices!:

5 points: Read a book that has between 100 and 200 pages | The Halloween Tree (Ray Bradbury)
10 points: Read a debut book by any author | Murder at the Brightwell (Ashley Weaver)
10 points: Read a book that takes place in another country | The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge | Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)
(taken from Erin’s List)
15 points: Read a book published under a pseudonym | Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb)
15 points: Read a book with “boy,” “girl,” “man” or “woman” in the title | Girl Waits with Gun (Amy Stewart)
15 points: Read a book with a one-word title | Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
20 points: Read a book with a person’s first and last name in the title | Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (JK Rowling)*
20 points: Read a food-themed book | Julie & Julia (Julie Powell)
20 points: Read a book with a verb in the title | The Air He Breathes (Brittainy C. Cherry)
30 points: Read two books with the same title (by different authors) | Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) & The Cloud Atlas (Liam Callanan)
30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject | Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (Therese Anne Fowler) & Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

*I don’t usually re-read books, but HP is an exception!

Like I said, this starts November 1 and goes until January 31. (Wow… January? Are we even ready for 2016? Woof…) I have little faith that I will get more than 10 points, but seeing as I’m only competing against myself 10 points sounds great! #scwbc15

What do you think of my choices? What would you pick? Anyone have some words of encouragement?

-Louise