Fiction Fridays at The Duck & The Owl!

This week, I started contributing short stories/flash fiction for The Duck & The Owl! My stories are now featured in one of their series called “Fiction Fridays,” and they’ll appear a couple times a month alongside other writers. I love it!

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Today, a little something I wrote called “Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” is up for your perusal. Head to The Duck & The Owl to read it and don’t forget to follow Kaitlyn and Sarah. Their blog is all about positivity, self-love and artistic endeavors.

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‘Dark Places,’ my third Gillian Flynn

Following Sharp Objects, I immediately began to read Dark Places, which was probably not the best choice for either my sanity or my REM cycle, but hey. YOLO. After such an amazing masterpiece that was Sharp Objects, my expectations were high. Sadly, Dark Places fell short for me, miles short of either Gone Girl or Sharp Objects. Here’s why.

5886881The premise of the book is immediately engaging: Libby Day is a thirty-something woman who survived the slaughter of her mother and two sisters when she was only 7 years old. She famously testified that her brother was the murderer, and never looked back. Obviously, Libby is not a functioning, happy adult, and when her bank account runs dry, she discovers that there are groups of homicide-obsessed people who are willing to pay her for her memories and memorabilia. And the clincher is that they all believe—with good reason—that Libby was wrong, and that her brother, who has been in jail for twenty-odd years, is innocent. To get the money, Libby begins to question her own testimony and re-open the case. It turns into an emotional and terrifying journey for her to discover who actually did murder her entire family.

It sounds great on the back cover, but I think this book fell short because of several reasons. For one, every other chapter is a flashback to supposed-murderer Ben Day’s last 24 hours before the murder, and it’s in third-person limited. The rest of the chapters are present-day and in Libby’s first person. This makes the narrative less engaging because the reader knows so much about the events of that day, and it turns boring fast. The immediacy is removed, and the narrative becomes punctuated. It also confused me when the point of view changed so much. There’s a good way to do all this stuff, but unfortunately, Libby Day’s voice was not strong enough to make it obvious when the point of view changed. It all felt like Flynn’s voice, and that’s a problem.

Second, I guessed the ending and that frustrates me because I’m the absolute worst at guessing endings. I’m a naive and blind reader, and the fact that I guessed the ending just shows me that it was extraordinarily predictable. The murderer[s] aren’t scary, and the villain[s] are supposed to be complex but they end up being either caricatures or completely unbelievable. It didn’t feel real, and it didn’t scare me as the other two definitely did.

That said, I think if I had read this book by Gillian Flynn first, I’d have liked it better. Gone Girl and Sharp Objects just eclipse this one entirely.

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Fashion | Because the sky is blue

Continuing my theme of boho style, I put together this outfit with a color I hardly ever use: green. To be fair, this is teal rather than green, but I love it just the same. I’m a very color-oriented person and I tend to go through phases of being obsessed with one color. Right now, it’s turquoise and teal. So that’s two colors. ;) I also love these floral bitty pointed flats from Forever 21, and I’m obsessed with this diamond/criss-cross necklace I got in my April Rocksbox.

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top and flats from Forever 21, necklace c/o Rocksbox 

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Thrifting haul

New York City boasts hundreds of little thrift stores, but luckily I’ve got one two minutes away from my suburban home, tucked at the back of a teeny church. It’s called Red Door Thrift and I’ve haunted it many times looking for discount furniture, clothes and books. It’s open only for three hours four days a week so I always have to plan my visits.

Last year I found a powder blue chest of drawers there for a mere $18. I also found a pair of vintage cowboy boots that were sadly not my size, and countless books. Inside:IMG_0457 IMG_0450 IMG_0453 IMG_0452

I especially love the books: best sellers, out of print editions of classics, all kinds of genre fiction, big literature anthologies, and more abound. And best of all are the prices. I got six books for $4.50! That beats my 10% B&N discount for sure!

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Haul:

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1. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green $.50 
2. Candide, Voltaire $.50
3. The Toilers of the Sea, Victor Hugo, $1
4. Mrs. Arris Goes to Paris, $1
5. Highland Folktales $1
not pictured: a copy of Romeo & Juliet “No Fear Shakespeare” for my tutoree!

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Love cheap books.

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‘Sharp Objects,’ my second Gillian Flynn

My first Gillian Flynn was appropriately Gone Girl, and I’d heard a lot about her first two smashing novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, so I recently took a weekend and read these novels almost in one sitting each, which is fabulous and also I couldn’t sleep for like four days, because holy mother of pearl, this book was a nail-biter. It’s a classic whodunit with no small measure of psychological mind-effing thrown in just to make you second-guess both your sanity and your humanity.

66559Sharp Objects is elegantly plotted and succinct. Camille Preaker is a second-rate journalist at a failing Chicago newspaper sent down to her Missouri hometown to investigate what seems to be a serial killer. Two girls have been murdered within a year’s time. Both girls were feisty, mischievous middle-schoolers, and both were found with all their teeth pulled out.

That detail alone was enough to make me cringe. Gillian Flynn has a knack for making singular gory details vivid and endlessly disturbing. Camille is a troubled thirty-something whose rich mother never loved her. Going home to investigate the murders has made Camille face her own demons, the biggest of which is that she is a cutter. But instead of lines on her wrist, Camille cuts deep words all over her body. Her whole body is therefore covered in gleaming white scars that spell over a decade’s worth of self-harm and self-loathing.

Camille also has to bond with her beautiful and cruel younger sister, the thirteen-year-old Amma. Their family structure includes a neglectful, controlling mother, a wild and ferocious teenage girl, and Camille’s younger sister, who died at ten years old. Camille’s investigation becomes personal very quickly, forcing her to confront her own humanity.

“Camille?” Her voice quiet and girlish and unsure. “You know how people sometimes say they have to hurt because if they don’t, they’re so numb they won’t feel anything?”
“Mmm.”
“What if it’s the opposite?” Amma whispered. “What if you hurt because it feels so good? Like you have a tingling, like someone left a switch on in your body. And nothing can turn that switch off except hurting? What does that mean?”

So much of this book plays on your own sense of humanity. It seems to suggest that there is something bestial, demonic and evil within all of us, and that our basest instincts may always be lurking just below the surface. It’s deeply unhealthy because it almost feels true, this idea that maybe we are all capable of horrible acts of violence, that it’s normal for humans to maim, abuse, control, and kill.

It’s deeply unsettling, but it’s almost a triumphant piece of fiction because it is so powerful and disturbing. As gross and nasty as this book is, it also achieves elegance and beauty, and that truly frightens me.

4.5/5.

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A day of my life in ten photos

Today I did this exercise of taking ten pictures of my day. These things are just normal stuff I do every day like work and do chores, and I learned some things. The first is that things look a lot cooler when you take pictures of them. The second is that my daily life is pretty boring. However, I always think of each day as somewhat special, whether it’s because I decided to go outside to eat lunch or I listened to a new song on the radio, or because my work that day was especially satisfying. And so I also realized that so many seemingly boring lives are led by really happy people. I have my work, I have my family, I have my friends and my hobbies. And yeah, a mountain of laundry to do!

Here are ten pictures of a typical weekday:

Photo Apr 14, 10 40 35 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 42 15 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 42 43 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 44 48 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 46 26 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 50 04 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 48 28 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 46 56 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 50 38 PM Photo Apr 14, 10 51 27 PM

1. the bottom of my morning coffee, 2. working at my home office/desk, 3. reading break, 4. laundry mountain, 5. makeup time!, 6. going out for the day, 7. my neighborhood and cloudy April skies, 8. Starbucks [lovers] and more work, 9. weekly family dinner table, 10. end of the day and socks with no holes! (win)

What would your day in 10 photos look like? I encourage you to try this challenge! And if your daily life is more interesting than mine, please share.

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Fashion | Lead Me Home To Love

The first day of truly spring weather here in New York was the first week of April, when the thermostat hit 65 glorious degrees and I whipped out my light colors and left my jacket at home. This is an almost entirely Forever 21 outfit; I love these leggings so much I bought them in black and khaki and I’m contemplating stocking up. I can never have too many soft, comfortable and stylish black leggings.

My style for spring is all light colors and boho. I’m not a music festival-goer but I like to dress like one. :) White, flowy sleeves, lace and loose silhouettes are all on the agenda. I love how romantic this top is.
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jodhpur leggings and top from Forever 21, necklace c/o Rocksbox (get one month free using the code LISABFF433)

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