Books & Reviews 📚

Reading Diaries: Covers/Titles I dislike

Dear Diary,

You know I don’t judge, but that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing today: judging… books by its covers.

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Yeah, that’s what they said, but there’s some book covers out there that sometimes make me pause and think: Will the story be any better than the cover? Is the story even related to the cover? What even is this cover?

Let the judging begin!

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My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon

When I first saw this cover, I questioned many things about the intimacy of it and wondered if this was the new Beauty & the Beast and the acceptance of bestiality, so I read a bit of what’s it about:

Nora has bad luck with men. When she meets an (actual) bear on a hike in the Los Angeles hills, he turns out to be the best romantic partner she’s ever had! He’s considerate, he’s sweet, he takes care of her. But he’s a bear, and winning over her friends and family is difficult. Not to mention he has to hibernate all winter. Can true love conquer all?

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I was also quite surprised with all the raving positive glowing entertaining reviews. How can it be funny, sweet, sincere, quirky, beautiful and all of that lovely jazz? From what I understand, Nora is having a relationship with a 500-pound wild beast because all of mankind is terrible. Did she ever stop to think that maybe she is the one making all the wrong decisions? That there are still good guys out there? She just had to fall in love with a bear and bring him home.

Right. And my boyfriend is a crazy psychopathic host call Chris McLean, but it doesn’t mean I want to take him home and play house with him.

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Someone is gonna die in that relationship and it ain’t me. *clears throat* Oh, I mean, someone is going to die in that bestiality relationship and it ain’t the bear. If there’s a sequel in which the bear eats the lunatic, good for the beast. And if you were to tell me that I am reading too much into the cover and it’s actually a sweet and warm story, I’ll call you a liar for I read a reviewer’s account of the heavily implied bestiality relationship and she had to stop reading the book when she came across “he literally spat into my…” Yep, Nora is talking about her lady part. 

I rather read about someone’s account of finding true love with Jesus. Books like these shouldn’t see the light of day. I can tolerate cheesy YA and boring romances, but I can’t get on the bestiality wagon. I don’t care if it’s for the open-minded, no one should be open to having sexual relationships or attractions to animals. That’s just wrong. 

I think it would’ve been better had the bear been an actual man in a bear suit. It doesn’t make it right, but at least, it would’ve been a man instead of an animal. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass

Amazon, please stop recommending this author to me for I don’t want to buy her books. I don’t like magic, fantasy or fairytales for that matter and I don’t want to read this dark looking book! Man, I just don’t understand the appeal of this author. She’s like J.K. Rowling 2.0 popping up everywhere. I don’t like this cover… and all other covers from this author for that matter. 

Thirteen Reasons Why

Another book Amazon has been dangling in front of me for a while. Here’s the thing, many readers love the book, and that’s fine, but I don’t think I’ll read it. On the surface, it sounds like suicide glorification.

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I won’t ever read this book – or watch the show for that matter – and I dislike when people keep shoving this book in my face encouraging me to read it. I figure if I do read it, I’ll be listing 13 Reasons Why I Hate This Book and I don’t want to walk down that route. I don’t want to be insensitive when it comes to handling suicide, but the book and the show seem to handle the situation quite differently. Apparently, the girl is a saint and she blames everyone, but herself for committing suicide. The bottom line I take away from this story base on what I’ve read concerning reviews and the plot: if you’re having problems, it’s fine to kill yourself. How can the girl be a hero when she takes her life, huh? HUH?

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The book is about a prankster taking a joke too far one day causing her father to sentence her to spend her summer working on his food truck and some boy name Hamlet has a crush on her and she’s probably going to like him back in the end, and this is the best cover that publishing came up because…? I’ve come to realize that Korean YAs tend to have the least interesting covers out there. I’ll skip this story and take Michael Jackson’s contribution instead for he was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title.

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The first time I saw this video, let it be known that I was impressed with his stalking behavior. He went from being stalked in “Billie Jean” to being the actual stalker in TWYMMF. 

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

I don’t like this cover a latte and I think the font is boring, but I’ll be reading this book once I get my hands on a copy.

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Over to you: Have you ever judged a book by its cover? 

Challenges/Tags/Fun Stuff

Day 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love

I’ll just leave a few songs that I think is love. 

Take My Breath Away 💙

Sweet Top Gun memories! Actually, the first time I heard this song, I had no idea who Tom Cruise or Top Gun was. I just really loved the song and thought it was downright sweet and romantic. It took my breath away at first listen.

I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith 💙

I haven’t seen the movie that this song was made for and the music video is eh, but the violins, the guitars, Steven Tyler’s amazing voice on this ballad! It’s filled with raw romantic dedicated and unconditional love and this feeling can never ever be bought. It’s filled with passion for that other half. When you find this kind of love, why let it go? I like to think that this is the greatest love song of all time… or one of.

Never Tear Us Apart – INXS

Eh, it’s more about fate putting two people together because you don’t get to choose who to love sometimes. It’s intense love through an instant attraction and remembering the first time they met and although there’s a hint of break-up in there, this song can also be looked at as a make-up song after the couple resolves the conflict hence coming out stronger than ever. But that beautiful synth at the beginning which built up and broke over the saxophone is magnificent!

By Your Side – Sade

I think it’s a beautiful song and it captures love in every sense of the word. No matter what you’re going through, the ups, the downs, the smiles, the frowns, when lonely, Sade is going to be by her partner’s side. If you love someone and you can’t seem to say the words, play this song for them.

Bible Study

Genesis part VI: Noah leaves the ark and God blesses him

In case you missed it:

Part 5: The wickedness of the world and the Great Flood

PART 4: The first murder and genealogy of the Patriarchs

PART 3: The Original Sin

PART 2: The making of mankind and the Sabbath

PART 1: Genesis: in the beginning

Spending time in God’s Word, talking and discussing it and helping others to comprehend it and also learning from them, is my greatest source of happiness. 

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Noah leaves the ark

Scripture in focus: Genesis 8 

God remembers Noah (8:1) is just an anthropomorphism given that He never forgot about Noah in the first place. It is significant to note that the entire race of mankind is now dead, save for Noah and his family. God made a wind to pass over the earth causing the waters to abate (8:1-3). Perhaps the waters were congregated into rivers, seas, lakes etc.? The ark then came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat on the 17th of the 7th month (8:4). We’ll go into detail about Noah’s ark in another post. 

The tops of the mountains were finally seen in the 10th month (8:5). I just started studying the Biblical calendar and I read that the 10th month was January. In 8:6-12, Noah used a raven and a dove to test the earth’s condition. The raven is a bird of prey. Some readers suggested that by the raven going “to and fro” the raven died, but from what I understand, the raven went out of the ark, returned, but did not go in, going forth again. Basically, the raven went back and forth (without entering into the ark) until the waters dried up, returning no more. It couldn’t have died for the purpose of taking the animals in pairs into the ark was to repopulate the earth and ravens mate for life and live in pairs.

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The dove is symbolic of the Holy Ghost. Noah sends her out next but she couldn’t find any rest for her delicate feet so he reaches out his hand and takes her back into the ark. Seven days later, he sends her out again and this time, she returns in the evening with a plucked olive leaf in her beak showing that trees began to appear above the water. Another seven days, he sends her out again and this time, she does not return. There is some symbolism in these few passages. The raven is a scavenger and feasts on carrion just as like the wicked heart sets its mission on things of the world. The dove is the Holy Spirit (the Helper) so we can safely say that the helper has done its work. 

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On the 1st day of the first month (April) of the 601st year, Noah removes the covering of the ark and beheld the face of the earth (8:13). Noah and family and the creatures finally leave the ark when God gives the command (8:16-19). What’s the first thing that Noah did when he left the ark? He built an altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord (8:20). It was Noah’s first thought to please and thank God. His unselfish act touched God’s heart thus winning blessings for all mankind (8:21-22).

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The new world and God’s blessings

Scripture in focus: Genesis 9

God blesses Noah and family and gives a request that they repopulate the earth (9:1). In 9:2, God makes it plain that man is higher than animal form. Man is also now given instructions to eat meat (9:3-4). Adam received instructions for eating (1:29-30; 2:15-17) and do note that meat was not a part of his diet. After the flood, the relationship between mankind and the animal kingdom changed drastically. God also warned about eating “flesh with the life thereof.” Let’s pause here and read that statement again (9:4). This has confused many people over the years who claimed the verse as the origins of vegetarianism. That means God would’ve contradicted Himself in 9:3 when He gave the command to eat meat. If it were so, then Jesus broke the rule in Luke 8:55 when He rose the girl from the dead and told her parents to feed her meat. He certainly didn’t say to feed her a salad! Meat sustains strength and she would’ve certainly needed meat to sustain hers. “Flesh with the life thereof” means the flesh of mankind. We’re not supposed to eat human flesh (cannibalism). Blood represents life and to shed it represents death.

Animal or man are not supposed to take human’s life unlawfully (9:5) for man alone was created in the image of God (9:6). Instead, mankind was supposed to be multiplying lives (9:7). The Noahic Covenant is the first covenant God made with man (verses 9-17). The Creator has established the covenant (9:11) and He promised to never again send a universal flood to judge the world thus establishing the human government (9:12). So when we see the rainbow in the sky, we can always remember that promise for it is the official seal of the covenant (9:13-15).

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“Ham is the father of Canaan” (9:18). Canaan here is a man’s name and his offsprings were the idolatrous enemies of Israel. All of mankind who lived after the flood came from Noah’s 3 sons (9:19). Don’t discredit Adam yet for all nations came from Adam through Noah (Acts 17:26). Then Noah assumes the responsibility of his family by becoming a husbandman (9:20). However, he is careless in his walk with God, gets drunk and is uncovered in his tent (9:21). When someone gets drunk, they’re unaware of their actions. I wish I could’ve gone back in time and warn Noah about growing those grapes! But there’s a lesson in here: we can still fall back into sin if we get careless in our walk with God no matter how much we might have pleased Him in the past.

This careless action of Noah pleases Ham (9:22) after violating his father’s privacy. He went to tell his brothers probably hoping that they’ll mock Noah as well, but it was quite the opposite when Shem and Japheth covered their father with a garment (while walking backwards so they wouldn’t see their father’s nakedness) showing they were respectful children (9:23) which brings to mind the 5th commandment. Noah then wakes from his drunken slumber, found out what Ham did and cursed Canaan (9:24-25). Four sons are recorded for Ham in 10:6. I was wondering if Canaan was perhaps Ham’s favorite son given that Noah didn’t curse all of Ham’s descendants. In the same breath, he blessed his other two boys (9:26-27).

Noah lived a full life of 950 years and then died (9:28-29). What a life! He was present when wickedness in the world multiplied in the old world and lived through the destruction because he obeyed God. Just think if God had not found righteousness in Noah! It’s sad that he had to witness wickedness again in the times of the evil Nimrod. But it was also a blessing that he lived a long time after the flood to give an account of the old world. 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ The waters consumed the wicked earth for 150 days from May 17th – May 27th. 

^ I guess it is safe to say that after the flood, longevity of life began to decline.

^ The word blood is used 424 times in 357 separate verses in the KJV. Blood sealed God’s covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:8), blood set aside the priests (Exodus 29:20), blood cleanses us (Hebrews 9:14), and blood enables us to overcome Satan (Revelation 12:11).

^ The first mention of drunkenness in the Bible is when Noah became drunk bringing into account Proverbs 20:1 which shows the foolishness of drunkenness. 

^ Although it could be argued, I don’t think Noah’s nakedness had nothing to do with sexual abuse as some accounts stated. I disagree that Noah was sexually abused by one of his sons or relatives. I know the keyword in 9:21 is ‘uncovered’, but it has nothing to do with the sexual relations law in Leviticus 18:6-20. Noah simply got drunk, his actions were not his at the moment, and maybe it was hot so he took his clothes off (uncovering of one’s self) and went into a deep slumber. It was a moment of weakness, yes, but even the best of man cannot stand upright unless they depend solely on God to uphold them. An imperfect moment shows how flawed man is. 

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible

* biblestudy.org

Challenges/Tags/Fun Stuff

Day 25: A song by an artist no longer living

The ever timeless classic “Billie Jean” by the talented Michael Jackson. Who was Billie Jean? What was Billie Jean? Was she just a girl as Michael claimed? The stalker who wrote him letters about a son she thought was his? Shall we decode the song? First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the moonwalk:

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Now, the song. What I loved about MJ, was the fact that his songs and videos mimicked each other and didn’t confuse its audience, for he used the videos to tell the story of his songs. In this song, we have a girl claiming that MJ is the father which he is outright denying. After all, this is an outcry! He’s a virgin (straight from his mouth) so how can he be the father? A PI is then seen following MJ in order to take pictures with him and the so-call Billie Jean to prove that they’re lovers. A newspaper headline appears screaming “Billie Jean Scandal” showing that the press never lets scandals or rumors for that matter fade for the media is almost always the ones responsible for making them up. 

The glowing floor is the most mysterious.

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I think it represents MJ being followed and accused and that no matter what he do or were he goes, someone is ALWAYS going to be there watching (Big Brother), which was creepily true in real life. She shows him a photo of his kid, and although “his eyes were like mine”, he still denies it “She says I am the one but the kid is not my son”.

Pffftt!! Yeah, right, the kid was his son and the lady ain’t no crazy fan named Billie Jean. His admonition of warning “remember do always think twice” overshadows his repeated denials of “the kid is not my son”. He had history with that girl. He’s admitting his mistakes because of fathering a child while being a child himself (possibly), but when he found out that the child isn’t his, he’s relieved because “mother always told me be careful of who you love. And be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth” and he regretted not listening to her. He’s also relieved because he’s young, his career is just taking off and having a child can be a setback. Obviously, he slept with this woman. How stupid does he think I am? He does not get to play the innocent victim in this song for moonwalking out of Billie Jean’s life and his possibly child. 

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As for “For 40 days and 40 nights. The law was on her side” it brings to mind Biblical accounts such as Jesus fasting for 40 days and the great flood. Here, 40 is the nominal number of weeks of pregnancy. Gestation lasts 40 weeks or roughly 9 months.

Hmmm… maybe I should start a Hollywood Speculation & Theory series. 🤔

Anyway, here’s a fun fact: this was the first music video I actually saw and I was intrigued with the mystery surrounding the story. It’s also the video that’s credited for breaking the color barrier on MTV. His videos were always groundbreaking and he changed an entire genre with them for music videos were never the same afterwards, but Billie Jean was his lover… at least in song.

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Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #114: Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik

Serial killer Gary Heidnik’s name will live on in infamy, and his home, 3520 North Marshall Street in Philadelphia, is a house tainted with the memory of unbelievable horrors. What police found there was an incredible nightmare made real. Four young women had been held captive–some for four months–half-naked and chained. They had been tortured, starved, and repeatedly raped. But more grotesque discoveries lay in the kitchen: human limbs frozen, a torso burned to cinders, an empty pot suspiciously scorched…

This is not a story for the faint-hearted. Cellar of Horror is a shocking true account of the self-proclaimed minister with a long history of mental illness, who preyed upon the susceptible and the retarded in a bizarre plan to create his own “baby factory.” It is a macabre web spun around money, power, and religion, tangled with courtroom drama and lawyers’ tactics, sure to send a chill into your very soul.

THE WRITING

Like many true crimes books out there, authors seem to enjoy going back and forth, sometimes clutching at straws when trying to tell a murderer’s story. I hated the back and forth of Heidnik’s life in this book. This is not supposed to be a fascinating page-turner that it leaves you at the edge of your seat where you can’t wait to turn the page to find out what really happened. The author should’ve started from Gary’s childhood thus producing a significant timeline. The back and forth was sickening and I almost flung the book across my room.

The information was also repetitive, another thing true crime writers have in common. The last two-thirds of the book focused on the trial and it was very boring at some point.

GARY HEIDNIK

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Like most (if not all) serial murderers out there, we can always look back to their childhood and blame something from their past that causes their brain to malfunction making them turn into killing machine. But where killing is concerned, there is no excuse, although Gary’s childhood was a dysfunctional one. His father was abusive and whenever he wet the bed he’ll be forced to hang up his sheets outside his window. He was a loner, but he was smart and at 17, he was drafted into the Army. It was during this stint that he showed signs of mental illness and things eventually went downhill from there.

He was said to be an LSD guinea pig for the military, but the most disturbing thing was the fact that he tried to commit suicide 13 times.

Twenty-one times Gary Heidnik entered mental health facilities. Twenty-one times he was discharged. Even when he said he wasn’t ready to go. Even when he begged to stay. (Page 274)

This started after his alcoholic mother committed suicide. Had he gotten the help he had needed, who knows? Things could’ve turned out differently today for him.

Intelligent, with an IQ of 130, Gary kidnapped, tortured, and raped six African-American women. During their captivity, Gary fed them dog food and even forced them to eat Lindsay’s body. 

Was Gary really mentally ill? Did he really suffer from schizophrenia? Was he faking it? How does someone who is mentally ill capable of making sound investments?

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Police digging in Heidnik’s basement (Pic via murderpedia.com)

Gary was executed by lethal injection on July 6, 1999. As of 2016, he was the last person to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

THE CAPTIVES

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via Google Images

Josefina Rivera, age 25, kidnapped on November 25, 1986. She was accused of beating the other captives and enjoying it even when Gary was not around.

Sandra Lindsay, age 24, kidnapped on December 3, 1986. She was murdered in February 1987.

Lisa Thomas, age 19, kidnapped on December 23, 1986.

Deborah Dudley, age 23, kidnapped on January 2, 1987. She was murdered on March 19, 1987.

Jacqueline Askins, age 18, kidnapped on January 18, 1987. (featured on The Steve Wilkos Show “I Survived A Serial Killer”)

Agnes Adams, age 24, kidnapped on March 23, 1987 (rescued the same day).

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Heidnik’s house (via criminalmindswikia.com)

COVER

2/5

OPENING:

Officer Julio Aponte shook his head. “No,” the rookie cop said emphatically. “I can’t do it. Not without checking with my supervisor.”

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffee…just one more True Crime book to go and then I’ll be reading a short history book on champagne and reviewing two YAs. 

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Challenges/Tags/Fun Stuff

Day 24: A song by a band you wish were still together

I’m not a band lover. I loved Backstreet Boys and I think they’re still together and Depeche Mode is definitely still going strong. I’ll have to go with Creed. Scott Stapp’s voice was not top notch in my opinion, but I liked it anyway. My all-time favorite song of theirs was “With Arms Wide Open”. Taking the lyrics at face value, it’s obvious that it’s about a father (Stapp) welcoming his newborn (Jagger) into the world. But the video tells a different story altogether.

Given that Creed was a “Christian” band, there had to be a spiritual theme. 

Stapp is addressing his Creator, there’s lightning and then he is suddenly surrounded by fire and brimstone (?) a sure sign that we’re living in a wicked world; the world in which his son is going to be born in. He sees a tower/church and seek refuge (Proverbs 18:10). He then finds himself in a cave under the tower church and while he sings about his one desire being that his son does not end up like him, he accepts God as His true Savior and is baptized and ends up on top of a mountain with arms wide open as if surrendering to God. Thus God receives His son once more with His arms wide open (The Prodigal Son).

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With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
With arms wide open

Yes, This Is Our World. 🗺

Michael Jackson music video inspires Cheswick boy to help the hungry

The following is taken from wtae.com:

A 9-year-old boy from Cheswick said he was inspired to help the hungry by watching a music video with his mom.

“I was watching a Michael Jackson video, ‘Man In The Mirror,’ and I just saw these kids that didn’t have enough to eat (and) not enough water,” said Sam Kieffer. “And it just didn’t seem right to me. Everyone should have enough food and water to live.”

Kieffer has established Sam’s Blessings Box on Jacoby Road. The outdoor food pantry provides everyday essentials to people who need them. Among them are fruit, vegetables and toiletries such as shampoo.

“I can’t survive a day without eating dinner,” said Kieffer, “so I can’t imagine how people feel when they don’t have anything for dinner for a week or many days. It’s just not right.”

Kieffer said he hopes his effort will inspire others to create similar roadside food pantries in their neighborhoods.

“I feel like the future of this small thing can make a big impact in every community.”

Helping the hungry isn’t the only mission for 9-year-old Sam. He has also become involved in raising money for research of the epidermoid brain tumor. He said his father has such a tumor.

Through the Save The Brains campaign, Sam, his siblings, and others have raised more than $7,000, making them the single-largest donor to the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society.

Among the fundraisers they hold are lemonade stands and bake sales.

Kieffer has also written a collection of poetry called Freedom Zone, a portion of the sales of which are donated to the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society. He has listed the book for sale on Amazon.

“Sam is a child who just has a genuine desire to help people and he tries to do that in various ways,” said Kieffer’s mother, Terri.

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This is the best story I’ve read this week and decided to share it here. Sam’s book can be purchased here: Freedom Zone. May God continue to bless this child as he carries out his mission in this world. 

***Photo via Twitter; GIF via Giphy

Challenges/Tags/Fun Stuff

Day 23: A song that you think everybody should listen to

Aw, man! I don’t like recommending music at all. I’ve chosen Michael Jackson for the past few days or so and I have a feeling that I’ll be selecting some of his songs later on again, so I’ll leave him out this round! 😄 I’ll just leave 4 songs that I enjoy and hope you enjoy them too. Fair?

All I Want by Michael W. Smith

There is no greater desire than drawing closer to Jesus. 💙We’re nothing without Him and although we may fail Him, He is quick to forgive us when we come to Him. Our eyes should be set on the things above as we continue to seek Him every day and Mr. Smith couldn’t have sung it any better. Jésus est mon Univers!

Peace by Depeche Mode

When Dave Gahan sings, you shut up and listen. Eh, not really, but Gahan just happens to be my favorite vocalist after MJ. At the beginning of the year, this song chose me. It’s calm, it’s peaceful, it’s motivating, it’s uplifting, it’s about letting go of a negative nature, accepting the past, and moving forward. Peace is also my word of the year… and so is epic! 😆

Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins

Stay with meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Was I disappointed when I found out that this band wasn’t actually a pair of dashing twins? Of course, I was! But they actually had some decent music such as this one and ‘Lay Your Hands’. It’s about reminiscing about a relationship gone bad, focusing on the good times they had while they were together. 

Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy

It’s just beautiful, soothing piano music. Clair de Lune is French for “light of the moon” or “moonlight” and it was originally written in 1890. It belongs to French Impressionism, although Debussy rejected this label in a 1908 letter. Now, this is giving me some serious inspiration for a poem!