The Hazelwood – Review

“My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways.”

The Hazel Wood is a remarkable creative blend of urban fantasy and twisted fairy tales with a touch of mystery added for flavor. This combination is incredibly creative and takes you deep into not just a fairy tale, or it’s retelling, but something far better.

We begin this tale through the eyes of Alice, a teenager who has spent most of her life running with her mother. What they’re running from is less clear, and only really referred to as bad luck.

“When we traveled I kept an eagle eye on the cars behind us, like bad luck could take human form and trail you like a minivan. But bad luck was sneakier than that. You couldn’t outsmart it, you could only move along when it had you in its sights.”

Alice, in true child form, becomes obsessed with her grandmother, a woman she’s never allowed to meet, and the book she wrote. Tales From The Hinterland thrust Althea into the light, but the book itself is rare, obscure and impossible to find. (Side note: I would adore this collection of fairy tales released, because oh how dark and delicious these tales would be!)

And this is where the mystery comes to light. Because in the beginning we get glimpses of this bad luck. We see Alice’s obsession with these tales and with her grandmother. Her life has the vague sparkle of something mystical lingering on the edges, but nothing defined. Is it simply Alice and her perceptions? Or is something else at play?

Whether it’s the bad luck finally catching up, or simply fate stepping in, forces conspire to drive Alice to the Hazel Wood, the mysterious estate her grandmother has hidden in. Alice finds herself learning all about these mysterious fairy tales and the woman who wrote them. More than she ever wanted to know. But once you fall down the rabbit hole, Alice learns the only way out is through. If the fairy tales will let her, that is.

“Most books’ power is in the abstract, but occasionally you’ll find one with very physical abilities.”

The first half of this novel is very much building the mystery. The mystery of the bad luck. The mystery of Althea herself and this elusive book of fairy tales. The mystery of Alice, her deep tendency to rage. The mystery of her mother and what she is so terrified of.

The mystery is what baits us. It sets the trap so that we are entangled into the core of the obsession with Alice. We feel her desire for knowledge. For something more. And once we are entwined, guaranteed to not be able to leave, the mysterious edges of what could be paranoia or fantasy begins to sharpen and reveal itself.

“Her final words had an extra resonance to them, a blur. Like they wore a mask to hide their true intentions.”

Beyond the world of murderous and violent fairy tales, this book is about so much more. I love how through this journey of fairy tales, this book really is a look at how to control your own story, to take back your voice and create your own narrative.

Alice runs because her mother tells her to. Because she is a child growing up, and children have no choice but to embark on the life their parents set out on. But when she is older, when forces plot to remove her mother from the equation, Alice has to figure out which path to set herself on. She has to decide where to go, and what to do.

A lifetime of warning from her mother, never talk to fans, never read the book, all culminate with a final warning: stay away from the Hazel Wood. Within hours she betrays the first rule, turning to fan Ellery Fitch for help. And while the book remains as elusive as ever, Fitch once owned a copy and could retell the stories with chilling accuracy.

Alice decides that even though her mother warned her, action is the only way forward. That she is the only one who can reclaim her story, who can face the bad luck and vanquish it.

“I did it because a girl doing nothing in a fairy tale ends up dead or worse, but a girl who makes a decision usually gets rewarded.”

Sometimes as children we can feel voiceless. We can feel lost in a world we don’t understand. Where our parents make rules that feel arbitrary and unclear. And while most of us don’t wake up to find our mothers missing and our world a blur between fantasy and reality, often we do find that we understand our parents only by defying them. We see their rationale and reason only after we make the mistakes they attempt to protect us from.

Fairy tales are told to teach us lessons. To help us understand the world at large in a way that will stay with us. This book does the same. It helps us understand the helplessness we feel as both children and as parents. How being an adult can sometimes lead to a reality less than we once imagined. It teaches us that we each have a voice of our own, and can choose to use it, even if someone more powerful tells us we can’t.

I loved this book for the dark and twisted path it led me down. But I loved it even more for the empowerment it quietly taught me.

Thank you NetGalley and Flatiron Books for approving my request to read and review this book!

Nevernight – Review

“At the heart of it, two kinds of people live in this world or any other: those who flee and those who fight.”

Enter the world of Mia Corvere. The little girl who barely escapes with her life after her father plots (and fails) a rebellion. Now, she is grown and has vengeance in her blood, driving her forward. Her goal is the Red Church. A school of the worlds most deadly assassins, all fighting for one of four position as Blades of the Church. She leaves Godsgrave and everything she knows to pursue her singular goal.

Jay Kristoff writes in such a unique and addicting way. There is the story, with the narration telling the story of the present but also jumping back to reveal glimpses into Mia’s past. Helping us build the horror of her past into the horror of her future. But, we get an additional narrator, in the footnotes added throughout the book.

At first, to be entirely honest, I wasn’t sure I liked that format. It felt distracting and I kept getting pulled out of the action. But, slowly, without even knowing it, I realized that this is done purposefully and adds to the immersion into the world of Itreya in a way that normal narration simply wouldn’t have allowed. It adds a second personality, and one that I quickly fell in love with.

“Here is the truth gentlefriends: when in doubt, it’s best to be polite when dealing with lunatics.”

This narrator is snarky and sarcastic in all the best ways. He adds all the details and history of the Republic, along with legends and stories from the past. It’s information that would be difficult to add in otherwise, and the humor is fantastic! To be yelled at for reading a footnote in the height of a fight, by the footnote, is just a special sort of magic.

The humor of the mysterious narrator is also needed, because this book while delightful is incredibly dark and violent. I happen to find that sort of dreariness delightful, but be warned, this book is about a school of murderers striving to become assassins in a very brutal world. Kristoff does not hold back when writing about severe punishments inflicted for breaking the rules, or in the very vivid descriptions of torture and torment, or in the fast paced and heart pounding fighting that occurs.

“The wolf does not pity the lamb,” Drusilla said. “The storm begs no forgiveness of the drowned.”

This is not a book about mercy. This is a book about vengeance and betrayal. About one girls fierce desire to take down the Republic that killed her family and destroyed her life. Mia is a fantastic character. Even though she’s more likely to slit my throat than share a meal with me, I think we would be amazing friends. She is driven by revenge, but she hasn’t lost her heart. At least, not yet. But that is something she will have to face in this quest she has set herself on.

Kristoff has given us a world that is massive and epic in detail, with the narrator contributing enormously to the richness of this world. Nevernight shows us a world with three suns. A world where the night sky is only seen rarely. A world where the city is built from the bones of a fallen God, nobles living in the gravebone ribs high above the Spine below, using weapons made of godsbone. It’s a world that is unforgiving and brutal, but wondrous and magical nonetheless.

“She could feel it. All around her. Seeping through Godsgrave’s cracks. The agony. The fury. The pure and blinding hatred nestled in this city’s bones.”

This is a book that takes the cold harshness of a Roman-like Empire and adds a touch of fantasy and magic to it. There is nothing fluffy written within these pages, but that isn’t to say that the book isn’t full of heart. This is a book that gives you the good and bad of human nature and everything in between. You may not think you can find charm in an assassin, but you’d be wrong.

Kristoff doesn’t give you cookie cutter characters where the line between good and evil is clear. Instead, he offers something more real and far more satisfying. He gives you characters that feel like people. Of course, he does add in magic, which makes everything a lot more fun!

Nevernight is a book filled with dark humor and violence. It doesn’t back away from examining the dark reality that lies beneath humanity’s shiny veneer. This is dark fantasy at it’s best. We are taken into another world. A world we don’t know but can easily recognize. We are subjected to pain and hope, betrayal and triumph, love and loss. It is a book that takes us down a very human journey, and is stunning to experience.

For anyone who enjoyed Game of Thrones or Red Rising, this book will definitely be for you!

 

The Cottingley Secret – Review

“The soul of the fairy is its evanescence. Its charm is the eternal doubt, rose-tinted with the shadow of a hope. But the thrill is all in ourselves.”

The Cottingley Secret is part historical novel, part contemporary novel, where the two stories intersect and meet together in the end.

In 1917, two girls brought together by the Great War find a little bit of magic in the garden by their home. Frances Griffiths was ripped from her home in South Africa when her father was called to war. She and her mother move to Cottingley, England, where she and her cousin Elsie Wright become as close as sisters.

Present day introduces us to Olivia Kavanagh. Olivia finds herself back in Ireland after the death of her grandfather. She learns that she inherits his bookshop, Something Old, and with it, a number of financial problems. Somehow, her grandfather knew she would need time and space to set her course, and also leaves her a manuscript. Olivia finds herself falling into the past and reliving the grip of a nation in a frenzy over fairies.

This book is simply magical. Personally, I am a fan of books that take two different times and somehow write a compelling story that makes them relevant to each other. Something about connecting the past to the present is really appealing to me. Gaynor executes the weaving of these two times and these two stories so beautifully. Each is it’s own story, but also reliant on the other. You want to know what’s happening in both, and wonder all the way through how they are connected.

It isn’t necessarily a mystery, as enough large clues are given so that you can draw the conclusions on technical relationships. But it is the mystery of magic in both stories that make them so unique and such a pleasure to read.

“It is only by believing in magic that we can ever hope to find it.”

I didn’t know going in to this book about The Cottingley Fairies. As I was reading, I found myself going online and reading more about it. This is one of my favorite things when reading historical fiction. When an author takes real events and works them into a story. It feels so much richer to me when you read about a time, or an event, or a person and get to immerse yourself in a possibility of the past.

What I find so completely magical about this book, and about the original story, is that it really becomes less about the actual fact of the fairies and more about the idea of believing in the fairies.

“If we can believe in fairies, perhaps we can believe in anything, even in an end to this damned war. And wouldn’t that be something.”

I loved that at every turn in this book, it didn’t matter if you believed in fairies or magic or not. It became about the ability to believe in possibility. Francis needed to believe in the possibility of her father coming back. She had to wish for it, and in order to wish for something, you have to believe in magic. For Olivia, her wishes required less magic, but belief nonetheless. She needed to remember that she can be whoever she wants, and do whatever she wants. She simply needs to believe that she can.

It’s books like these that make reading so magical to me. We are always urged to grow up and to focus on reality. We forget that there’s a magic to life, even if we don’t expect fairies to greet us in every garden. There is a gift in not knowing what’s going to happen next, and we can find enormous power in simply believing that anything is possible. It’s a wonderful reminder to read a book and be gently reminded that we can create magic in our own lives every day.

“Make-believe keeps us going at times like this. We have to believe in the possibility of happy endings, sure we do, otherwise what’s it all for?”

Francis and Olivia both need to believe in their own happy endings. Which is true of all our lives. We are the bearers of our own magic. We can determine if we believe in the possibility of something, or if we can’t. And our fates will follow our beliefs. So many things we take for granted today would be considered magic centuries ago. Lights that turn on with a switch, or movement. A machine that allows us to talk to anyone in the world, anytime we want. Movies, television, phones, heat, air conditioning. These are all things no one would have dreamed of. Until someone did.

This is the magic that Gaynor brings to life in her book. It is the magic of what could be. The magic of what we can’t imagine yet. It tells a tale of fairies, yes. It weaves a story about a little girl who saw fairies and the choices she made afterwards. It is fiction, wrapped with a touch of reality. Yet it still pushes us to close our eyes and remember the days of our own youth. When we believed in magic and possibility.

Were the fairies of Cottingley real? Was it all a hoax? And, really, does the answer matter at all? Like any good story, it isn’t the details that matter. It is how we feel when we close the pages. We each have magic inside. We simply have to choose to ignite it.

Thank you BookSparks and William Morrow books for sending me a copy to read and review for FRC 2017.

The Crowns of Croswald – Review

“In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic in one secret…”

This book was a delight! A magical, joyful delight!

At the very beginning, we are introduced to Derwin Edward Night, a young and talented scrivenist heading to serve his new Royal family. Except, he never quite makes it and we are left with very mysterious clues as to his fate.

Enter Ivy Lovely. Ivy is a young scaldrony maid, whose sole job is to manage the scaldrons (dragons) that function as ovens. Ivy’s life gets disrupted fairly quickly as she finds herself thrown out of the castle with only a mysterious letter from her friend, Rimbrick, to guide her.

For reasons she doesn’t quite understand, she is picked up and enrolled into the scrivener school, The Halls of Ivy.

Life does not get easier for Ivy, nor easier to understand as the school year progresses. Ivy finds herself in trouble more times than she thinks is fair, especially considering most of the events are either out of her control or not her fault. However, each trip to the Selector’s office raises more questions for Ivy and her curiosity finally gets the better of her.

But things are not what they seem. Ivy’s books from her castle have mysteriously emptied themselves as soon as she left the slurry fields. The Selector is taking paintings off the walls and hiding them, along with other artifacts, in the Forgetting Room. A room that everyone forgets about, except Ivy. And then there’s the matter of the pirate in her professor’s Glanagerie bottle.

Everything about this book was fun to read. The world building is enthralling. And woven throughout the story are clues to a building mystery.

Right away I want to know what happened to Derwin Night. We see glimpses of him sprinkled throughout the book; however, each encounter leaves me with more questions than before!

Then, there’s the matter of the Dark Queen. She seems as mysterious as Night, though her presence is definitely more known, and feared throughout Croswald. But who is she? And how did she claim power? And what does she want?

Ivy finds herself surrounded by friends and foes alike. Some are harmless, like Damaris, a haughty princess who thinks it’s hilarious to torment a scaldron maid turned scrivenist. While others are true friends, looking out for her and trying to help her, Winsome, Fyn and Rebecca most notably.

And then there’s the Wandering Family and the Lost Queen. Why are they wandering? Where did they go? And can they ever be found?

This book is intended for a younger audience, specifically Middle grade. Therefore, some of the clues and plot points may read somewhat predictable for a more experienced reader. For me, this wasn’t an issue. Even the pieces that were predictable were done in a very enjoyable way. Meaning, suspecting the outcome didn’t make the reading any less fun. And while I suspected some plot lines, there are still many that took me by surprise and left me wanting more!

The book is described as Harry Potter meets Cinderella meets Percy Jackson.

I think that description is appropriate and fitting. There is a magical, fairy tale feel to the story. D.E.ย Night has created a very submersive world, and it is easy to get swept away in the whimsy of it.

The details of the world are clever and creative. Instead of directly controlling magic through a wand or hands or even potions, Night created the use of a quill, and uses drawing and writing as the primary mode of magic. I found this to be very creative, especially as a writer uses words to actually create magic. I love this subtlety!

The creatures that inhabit this world are easy to identify and relate to other or similar creatures, and the names are cute and clever. Scaldrons are dragons. Hairies are fairies. Even more clever is how the names relate to their function in the world. Scaldrons are used as ovens, as mentioned earlier. Instantly the picture of a scalding hot oven or stovetop came to mind. Hairies have hair that lights up. It makes it easy to remember not just what they look like and what they do, but gives the world depth and texture that would otherwise perhaps be lost or bogged down with too much detail.

Even though we are given a satisfying ending to the book, it is clear there is more coming. Questions are still unanswered and mysteries still need to be solved. Night has cemented a very solid foundation so that future story lines can easily be built.

On top of a very fun and well-paced story line, the book itself is absolutely gorgeous. The cover is bright and colorful, the back art is rich and beautiful and each chapter heading is given a darling little drawing related to the story that unfolds within. And if you get a chance to visit the authors website, I strongly suggest you take it! You will feel the beauty and the magic and the whimsy that is Croswald.

From start to finish, this book is full of magic. The details are thought out and well executed. It is an enjoyable, fast, fun read!

I look forward to reading more of this world and can’t wait to see what happens next with Ivy and her friends. This was a solid introduction to Ivy, the school and the world in general. I hope to see much deeper exploration of minor characters and an expansion to the details of the world around Ivy in future books.

I cannot thank JKS Communications and D.E. Night enough for sending me an early copy of this novel, along with a stunning box full of magical delights! Each detail was as well thought out and as cleverly curated as the book. It was a delight to open!

This book comes out July 21. The pre-order link is below:

Pre-Order Link

 

 

April wrap up

Half way through May, and I realized I hadn’t done an April wrap up. The horror!

The good news, I’ve managed to write a review for all the books I read, so YAY ME!!! If I didn’t post all the reviews on my blog, they are all on Goodreads. FIND ME HERE

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Crimes Against a Book Club – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • Ruby – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • The Falconer – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • Strange The Dreamer – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • My Life to Live – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • The Rebellion’s Last Traitor – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • New Boy – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • Me Before You – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ
  • Hunted – ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Strange the Dreamer is setting the bar pretty high for best read this year. Though, it’s still tied with Female of the Species. I hope to read a lot more books that make the competition fierce for the top spot!

Reading for review is a new process for me. I am finding that it is helping me with my own writing as it opens the critical part of my brain that I need to analyze and evaluate my own work. Reading a variety of books is also helpful.

I find that I tend to go for the same books and the same authors all the time. Expanding on what I read, introduces me to different voices and styles that I may have been missing before. It helps me look at my own work through new eyes.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this one short and sweet! Did you read any of the books I listed? Are any on your TBR? Leave a comment and let’s chat!

Strange the Dreamer

Lyrical and haunting. Beautiful and tragic. Strange the Dreamer is a book that will leave you breathless.

“He listened the way a cactus drinks rain.”

This book is filled withย gorgeous sentences, just like this. Even more, this is exactly how you will read this book. Gulping the words in frantic desperation trying toย hold yourself back knowing that when it ends, you will have to hold in as much as you can until you can drink again.

This is a book that will sweep you away in its haunting beauty. You will lose yourself following Lazlo and Sarai as they dream their separate dreams.

Lazlo is an orphan, left abandoned to be raised in a monastery. Luck, or fate, leads him to a library, where he is content to read stories trying to solve the mystery of the Unseen City. A city lost for two hundred years. A city whose name was stolen. Lazlo, or Strange, is quite content to simply dream. Until his books are taken and a man named the Godslayer arrives. Fate it seems, has a much different plan.

Sarai, a Godspawn, a survivor, lives in the citadel high above the lost city of Weep. The name, stolen; the people, abandoned. She and her siblings live a meager life, surrounded by ghosts of the slaughter. All she wants is to live. To be left alone and not afraid. But the people below her believe them dead. Slaughtered with the rest. If they knew they were alive, fear and hatred would make survival impossible.

At the core of the book, we face the ultimate battle of good versus evil. The brilliance in the story, is that this battle is both literal and figurative.ย There is an evil lurking in and above the city of Weep, the Unseen City. But what is evil? And can it actually be fought?

Lazlo is a dreamer. He dreams beautiful dreams where anything is possible. Where you can turn your nightmares “into fireflies and catch them in jars.” Where love is possible. Peace is possible. Forgiveness is possible. But can those possibilities happen in real life? Or are they meant only for dreams?

As Lazlo enters the Unseen City, as he unravels the mystery keeping the citizens from the world, he begins to realize that life is more complicated than dreams. “Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.” If a good person does a bad thing, does that make them bad?

Woven into this story, is heartbreak and hope, love and hate, wonder and despair. Each word battling its opposite, but also needing it. We need love to know hate. We need wonder to know despair. We need heartbreak to know hope.

Taylor takes us through each, giving us waves of good, followed by waves of bad. Back and forth, up and down.ย With each horrific truth uncovered, we see past the act, and into the humanity that sparked it. We are given the empathy to mourn the action and the result in tandem. Good and evil, intertwined in complex humanity.

We know in the beginning, that something shocking and terrible will happen. We know it, and forget, lost instead in the mystery and wonder of this world. We know it, and forget, not wanting to face the clues laid before us. We know it, and forget.

Yet, as we are swept to the end, we are forced to remember. As we realize that there are no easy answers, as we realize with mounting horror that tragedy is looming, we still cling to hope, to dreams.

The book ends, and we scream for the sequel.ย Like the cactus after rain, you are left sated yet wanting. Satisfied but still yearning for more.

Laini Taylor has a talent at making the reader see that nothing is black and white. Good and evil are words that don’t fit in nice tidy boxes. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. And sometimes, bad things that happen to good people can turn them bad.

She also makes us examine the complex nature of good versus bad. We can’t have one without the other. We can’t be entirely good or entirely bad. They are interwoven, combined. One can’t exist without the other. And sometimes they can exist together.

It isn’t a case of creating a back story for a villain. Instead, we are given an alternative. That perhaps we are all capable of being turned into the villain. Or, conversely, that we are all capable of being turned into the hero. We see that words like fear, hate, evil, don’t exist in a vacuum. They are words born, created, evolved. The edges of these words are often blurred, making it difficult to see where they began, if they might end.

This book is made of magic. That special magic that transports the reader to the depths of their imagination. Read it and be swept away. Read it and fall in love. Read it and experience heartbreak.

It’s been weeks since I finished, and still I can’t get the stunning imagery out of my head. I can’t walk away from the characters and events of this book.

I feel that words simply cannot encapsulate this book. It is a book to be experienced, not just read. It is more than a compilation of words, it is beauty incarnate.

This book is haunting. It will haunt you. Though, isn’t that all we can ask a good book do?

Head in the clouds

I love clouds. Love them. And not just the insanely cute fluffy marshmallow puffs in the sky. All of them. I love clouds that are dark and stormy, airy and wispy, flat and grey. I love them all.

I have a theory on why.

When I was in college, I befriended a group of exchange students from the UK. Ireland to be precise. And they were enthralled with the cloudless blue skies of Nevada. I’ve always lived in Nevada, my entire life. Even though I now live in the Southern half, the sky is pretty much the same. Desert blue.

To me, seeing a clear sky with nothing but blue from horizon to horizon was nothing new. That’s normal. Sure, we get clouds and storms, but they don’t stick around long. While Mark Twain was speaking of New England when he said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”, this is an adage you’ll hear quite often in Nevada too. Itย is an apt description of how quickly weather can change here.

 

Once I became aware that blue skies (smiling at me) weren’t the norm in many parts of the world, my obsession with the fluffiness began. Or did it?

Did anyone else used to cloud watch when you were little? There is something so soothing about watching clouds drift by. To lie on the grass and picture whole worlds above you. Perhaps that’s really when my love affair took root. As a little girl, on the grass, imagining outrageous shapes in the sky. It’s a hard habit to break, and even today I still find myself looking for animals and creatures made of clouds.

As I travel around, I notice that other areas are more consistent in their sky cover.

England had a solid slab of grey almost the entire time I was there. Small snippets of blue would peak out to remind you of sunnier days. I didn’t mind the constant clouds though. It did make me realize why my friends were so amazed at the dazzling sun filled days. And, it helped me appreciate the beautiful blue just a tiny bit more.

In Hawaii I sawย sun and clouds and rain throughout the day. A beautiful morning can lead to afternoon showers to clear up and show you the infinite stars. I like a flowing sky, ebbing and flowing as we spin.

Many parts of California can have sun filled skies as easily as cloudy ones. Oregon, Washington, Texas, Colorado all have their own consistent weather patterns too. But clouds don’t seem as sparse. Maybe it’sย my timing. Brief visits anywhere can create an illusion of consistency that doesn’t really exist.

I don’t know if I would tire of clouds if I lived in a more volatile climate. Clouds in Las Vegas mean reprieve from the heat. They can also on occasion bring rain.ย Rainy afternoons are quite normal in many states and parts of the world.ย And that’s one more reason I think I love clouds.

Rain in the desert is a special event.ย Rain here means life. The entire desert changes colors with every small downpour. Sage brush turns lush and green with tiny pink and orange and red blooms. Flowers open on cacti, introducing a riot of yellow and orange and red to the pallet. Everything looks greener with the dust rinsed off. And, water brings out the wildlife to play.

Desert sunrises and sunsets are spectacular in their own right. But, add some clouds to really catch the color and the sky simply explodes. They are breathtaking. Clouds catch the sun and ignite the sky. Every second the colors shift and change, going from brilliant reds to the deepest purples and only to reverse the orderย to welcome the next day. You fall asleep and wake up to an artists brush streaking across the stratosphere.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful blue sky. A day when you can look in any direction and see nothing but infinite space is stunning. I will admit though, that they are more appreciable in the winter months. It’s hard to bask in the glory of that endless sky when you feel like you’re being cooked alive.

Clearย winter blue skies are tricky. At least with a cloudy sky you can better predict the temperature. In the desert, even in the middle of winter a clear day can mean ranges anywhere from freezing cold to moderately warm. It’s nice to not feel blistering heat, but it’s also a cruel trick to be so bright and beautiful and so cold at the same time.

It could be worse. I know that. I’m sure if I lived in a city that saw mountains of snow, and blizzards, tornados or hurricanes I would not begrudge a cold, cloudless day. I’m sure I would welcome those days with open arms. They just don’t feel quite as wintery to me as one filled with clouds.

Maybe it’s that I don’t see as many clouds as I would like. That to leave the house and see art in the sky is a special occasion rather than a main occurrence. They draw my eyes up and here is part of the magic. Because when you look up, you dream, at least I do. And dreaming is an art lost on so many of us.

Sometimes it’s the small gestures that spark our momentum. We use symbols all the time to help encapsulate what we want, who we want to be, what we want to do. To imagine, to dream, to create. All of these things require a spark, a tiny nudge off the cliff of reality to plummet into the depths of impossible.

In the end, I don’t think I really care why I love clouds, only that I do. Whether they bring rain or reprieve from the heat or just some pretty decorations in the sky. Utility combined with beauty is the perfect blend. Clouds, to me, will always be just a touch of magic in the sky.