Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Shiver

Maggie Stiefvater
Read September 2011

My best friend told me about Shiver some time ago. She said that Maggie, Shiver's author, wrote in a way that was lyrical. That she wrote in a way that made each work much like a song. I believed her, but I did not fully appreciate that statement till I read it for myself.

Maggie Stiefvater had become one of my favorite people through reading her thoughts and words in her blog. After I was shown a few posts by said friend, I was hooked. I read her blog all the way through, starting with the beginning. Each post fed my curiosity over the Mercy Falls Trilogy. Finally, I snagged a copy of Shiver and it was most certainly worth the long wait and lengthy anticipation.

Becca was right. Shiver is a song. I felt that the entire time I read it. I soaked the novel in—it only taking me a day to read it. I don't really have any complaints against it other than felt a slight compression in the work. While I realize it is a young adult novel, I do think it would have flourished to a whole new and amazing level if it was given more room.

Stiefvater sings a mosaic of of characters, paints a vivid world, and speaks beauty into our souls through this work.


“As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.” -Maggie Stiefvater

“And leaving you (there aren't words to untangle it)
Your life, fearful and immense and blossoming,
so that, sometimes frustrated, and sometimes understanding,
Your life is sometimes a stone in you, and then, a star.” -Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie being awesome:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
August 2011

Catching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games Trilogy. A dystopia set very far in 'our' future. Collins pulls us back into the world of the Hunger Games and it is extremely worth it. I think she pulls off a feat of creating a sequel that is better than the prequel. Don't you love it when you read or watch a sequel and expect to be sorely let down yet you get a great surprise? I do.

As we are brought back into the feel of the first book, I do believe I enjoyed this one much better. The characters were sound in their personalities and development after the events of the first book. Her writing was as vibrant as ever, and I liked the whole new feel we got by adding past victors! In fact, that was and will remain one of my favorite aspects of the novel. I have this weakness for when the best of the best get together and duke it out. I also liked seeing the darker psychological side of politics and the Capital from a first-hand perspective as well. Also, I really enjoyed the new characters, especially Finnick.

There is one scene that had me so captivated and moved that I was in tears. Peeta is holding a dying morphling and telling her all of the colors he had created, and as he talks to this dying girl, the beauty of each color comes alive to us as she responds to each and everyone one of the descriptions with a child-like captivation. Peeta spends the last few moments of her life telling her about how he's working on creating a rainbow. The utter innocence that is displayed here is so raw as we see two hearts displayed over something so simple as one soul passes into the next.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion." --Suzanne Collins

"At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it." --Suzanne Collins

I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a quick read, or who likes psychological novels.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Vigilante

Robin Parrish
July 2011

Want a novel where you are clinging to the edge of your chair in the middle of the night—eyes wide and the clock reading two a.m? Do you want your reading experiences to be exciting again, where the scenes are so enthralling and fast paced that you just want to plug in and feel like you're part of the action? Want something that leaves you breathless? Read a Parrish novel; they do that to you.

Vigilante is no exception to that tradition.

Our story gives us a decorated war hero who returns and after unspeakable evils, decides to take on a broken society in a novel about hope. A novel about the corruption and ensnarement of men. What would you do if you decided to go up against the morality of humankind while the entire world watches?

Parrish delivers us a novel about death and life, hope and hate, peace and fear. We feel pain and embrace joy as we clutch our hearts till the very end. Powerful writing drives the novel, along with vivid scenes and a climax that is in every way worth the lost sleep.

Grab on, hold tight, and step into Vigilante.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Leviathan

Scott Westerfield
Read August 2011

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

This book charmed me. Generally I don't like historical novels, and I had never read an alternate history novel, so I was weary. However, a good friend recommended this series, so I took her word for it.

Talk about a witty adventure!

I don't think I've ever read something so vivid in my life, especially for a YA novel. Right now it seems that recently I've been on a great-novel, very-vivid reading spree—which, of course, has been awesome. Who can say no to discovering so many great books so close together?

The thought Westerfield put into his alternate world is amazing. Everything feels real in its own right. The Darwinists and Clankers fascinated me, and even the 'science' of the Leviathan made sense to me. Very clever, Mr. Westerfield, very clever.

The commentary and curse-words amused me. It was pretty easy to figure out what they meant, and they did fit the dialogue well. I really enjoyed how Westerfield was aiming for time-period feel with his novel, complete with the formatting and the wonderful illustrations by illustrator Keith Thompson. Thompson accented Westerfield's work brilliantly. The characters were exactly how I pictured, and the scenes he drew for us made everything so much more of an aesthetic adventure.

Props to them both!

"Our dreams are the reverse of our waking imaginations; the motions when we are awake, beginning at one end; and when we dream at another." Chapter 2, pg. 13.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Incarceron

by Catherine Fisher
Read End July/Beginning August 2011

“A prison like no other.
It gives life.
It deals death.
It watches all.”

That quote is so true in describing Incarceron. This book is one of the few that literally sent my mind in a spin. You haven't met 'trippy' till you've met Incarceron.

It took me for the ride of my life as I clung to each page. When I read, I see things like I'm actually there and boy, was this a wild ride. At times I could see it, but the descriptions the author gave us really felt, well. . . alive. The words didn't just come to life as if in other novels, but it literally felt like the novel was always moving. To me it felt like Incarceron, the novel, breathed—constantly weaving, moving, changing.

Fisher paints a living prison and a unique world for us to explore. My only complaint is that with Sapphique, I tried to figure out who he was the entire time, and often I felt like Fisher was leading us in circles, saying one thing, then throwing us a curve ball next. It made me frustrated after awhile and I talked with a friend who has read both Incarceron and its sequel, Sapphique. According to her we are supposed to feel that way and it makes sense later why Fisher did that—I'm glad to know it wasn't just me!

Some of my favorite quotes:

“All my years to this moment
All my roads to this wall.
All my words to this silence
All my pride to this fall.” -Songs of Sapphique

“I do this for freedom,” he said calmly. “In a world that offers none.”

Review: On Hitler's Mountain

On Hitler's Mountain
Imgard A. Hunt
Read July 2011

When you pick up On Hitler's Mountain, you are in for a vigorous treat! One that displays Nazi Germany from a Nazi child's perspective. Not only does this sound interesting, but it proves to be what I'd confidentially say is one of the best things I have ever read, especially on the subject. Hunt gives us an honest account.

Imgard talks about the gradual rise of Hitler, and the crashing fall of the nation of Germany after wards. She shows us how Hitler romanced the impoverished and struggling minds of Germany, feeding on their fears by promising new change. It is a vast display of how Hitler seduced a nation and played one of grandest-scale mind games in humankind's history. The way Hunt presents it is refreshing and I found myself clinging to each page. While it was a biography, I found myself as entranced as I would be with an exciting fiction piece.

One thing that I do think helped with her presentation is the brief inserts about the Holocaust. It wasn't as if she was trying to avoid them, but it makes sense not to have them brought up with this biography. She tells us about her interactions with Jews, and things she noticed or heard, but otherwise that aspect was kept to a minimal, which I think helps our book here.

Also, I loved that she included pictures every once in awhile—ones that actually fit and accented her story. Most of them were photos taken or possessed by her family.

I recommend this to anyone who finds this time era fascinating, or enjoys a vigorous read.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers
July 2011

Oh man . . . where to start?

I must say, I was pretty excited when I finally got my hands on a copy and it didn't disappoint! By the end of the novel you will either 1, be crying your eyes out, or, 2, sitting there numb as your process everything you just read.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Redeeming Love, it is a story set in 1850 during California's Gold Rush. Angel—one of our two MCs—was sold into prostitution as a child and that's all she's ever known since. One day a God-fearing man named Michael Hosea stumbles into her life and declares that God told him she was to be his wife and he wasn't leaving without her. And he sticks to that, despite all the protest and disapproving hate he gets along the way. When Angel leaves him multiple times, he doesn't give up as he lovingly and painstakingly cracks through the casing around her.

“I want to fill your life with color and warmth. I want to fill it with light.” -Michael Hosea

Redeeming Love is a retelling of the book of Hosea in a total skin-peeling way that will leave you raw by the time you finish it. This is a novel about redemption that I think speaks a little to each of us.

I didn't have any issues with this book. Writing was smooth and all characters were sound. Not without human flaws, but the characters were sound in writing.

Francine Rivers delivers a powerful, raw, and emotionally gripping ride in Redeeming Love.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Eternity Falls

Eternity Falls
Kirk Outerbridge
Read July 2011

First off, may I say how much I love the cover of this book? I know people say to not judge a book by its cover but still, I can admire them. I think it is important to have a great cover for your novel because that's what stops me and other readers—that generally is what makes us flip the book over and take a look at the synopsis. Don't get me wrong though, I still give other books a chance.

Eternity Falls is the first publication I've read by publishing house Marcher Lord Press and I wasn't let down. I've heard raving reviews about books coming out of there and when Jeff Gerke, founder of Marcher Lord Press, spoke at a writer's conference I was at last August, I purchased this copy.

“The undying has died.”

The Miracle Treatment has kept people from death, and suddenly a famous movie star dies of natural causes. This book crafts an epic tale of the beauty of mortality, combined with a cyberpunk-packed feel and slamming fish.

One thing that I really loved was how vibrant and different the characters were. Some attributes I had to take a minute, step back, and wrap my mind around them, but I was never once disappointed.

The imagery of this novel is amazing and I could totally feel their world around me as I read, but I found myself wanting to walk away for a bit during the first half of the book. It wasn't that the writing was bad or setting, but I felt the pace moved too slow for me. Also, I found a few technical flaws that an editor overlooked, but it wasn't with the writing. All in all, a wonderful new flavor to the world of fiction.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place
Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill
Read June 2011

The Hiding Place was an intense journey through the Dutch Underground, which smuggled Jews during the Nazi invasion. It shows us the powerful story of Corrie ten Boom who displays forgiveness in a way that every human should, but few could comprehend.

The story moved along at an even pace, never feeling slow or “wordy”. I wasn't as moved as I expected to be by the time I finished reading it, but nonetheless the story was a good story that I'd recommend reading at least once. Corrie ten Boom looses her whole family, and yet, she offers forgiveness and looks past the hate and pain that the Nazis endure. She sees them for what they are, not the facade that they are trying to be.

Given the subject, some of the content has potential to be disturbing to some readers, as a warning. Nothing offensive is given great detail and is handled in a classy fashion.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Flittering Glitter & A Very Hannah Week!


Yes, I said so! So what! Haha.

Anyways, I apologize for my posting being so spotty. Life (isn't that the excuse we all use?) was rearranging itself on me. Stressful, but good. I'm currently moving back to Texas (humidity, I DO NOT miss you) and of course, that means...ROAD TRIP!

I love road trips. They are amazing and awesome. :) I remember one summer, Summer 2006, that me and my father ended up racking in 7,000 miles on the road. We drove all over, spending time in Ontario (Canada), Niagra Falls, New York, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Orleans, Biloxi (Mississippi). Lots of fun. =)

That is why I've vanished. I officially haven't had a life for the past month or so due to that. I also got my first car, got accepted to an arts school this summer (which is such an honor! I am one of 500 from around the globe) and been working on my business. Speaking of business...

I have had a very Hannah week!

"How so?" you ask? Well, I had the lovely opportunity of working with two new clients this week--both of which, are named Hannah! Hannah One was wanting shots with her costume collection she will be wearing for her ballet company's Spring 2011 production. This Spring they are doing Swan Lake. Hannah is a lovely dancer who has been dancing for many years and during the Winter 2011 season I had the pleasure of watching her ballet company's production of The Nutcracker. Here are some of my favorite shots from the shoot:

Hannah Two graduated! I ended up doing her senior photos and I have to tell you that she is a lovely young woman! I cannot wait to see all that God has in store for her. Here are some of my favorites from that shoot:

As you can tell, I had a very fun week with the camera! :D And with this, I must bid adieu for now!

With glitter and much love,

Monday, March 7, 2011



Latin; trust, confidence, reliance, belief, faith.

I'm a very action-oriented person who's joy is in serving others. I take initiative when the need calls for it and will do everything in my power to complete (or help) that need. When things get out of my control and I can't help anymore, I pretty much break down inside. Feelings of failure or laziness creep into me. Failure to my community, failure to my family, failure to my friends . . . the list goes on till I become so worried that I get physically sick.

Watching that video last Wednesday, my eyes were opened and I felt such a burden leave my chest. Yes, I give everything to God, but in all honesty, I am not fully trusting Him. So in reality, I wasn't really giving Him anything at all! Unconsciously I was showing my doubt in His ability and giving into the fear that was mercilessly eating away at my soul. How God repeatedly sees us not for what we are but who will we become goes so far beyond my mere human mind.

NOTE: I am not saying that idle motion is going to get rid of the situation. God calls us to have a servant's heart. Finding discernment between our will and God's should be our goal.

If we don't trust Him with one thing, are we honestly trusting Him with everything?

Blessings and much love,

Friday, January 7, 2011

SMS: 2010 Photography Review [Best Of]

While most of us bloggers are still dwelling on reflections of 2010, I decided to put together a year-end review for my business, Sarah Marie Studios. I know quite a few of my readers are a fan of my work so I compiled my personal favorites from the 2010 shooting season. Without further adieu, here are my picks from 2010: