Book Review: Phoenix Call by Margo Ryerkerk!

As I’ve done previously, I’m sharing this book review as a courtesy for Margo Ryerkerk, a really great author who so graciously gives me copies of her books in exchange for an honest review! I reviewed this book back in July on Goodreads, so sorry I’m just getting around to posting this now!

Phoenix Call is the fourth book in the Ardere series. Here’s the blurb for it:

A dark artifact.
A run against time.
A deadly demonic power.

Sierra has decimated her uncle’s generals but not his will. Her uncle will go to any lengths to gain power, even if it means the annihilation of the planet.

The Phoenix emblem broke into two pieces three hundred years ago when the dark lord was defeated.

Now, one half of the emblem has surfaced, and Sierra must find a way to destroy it before her uncle steals it.

If she fails and the two emblem parts are united, a great evil will be unleashed and everything she holds dear will be obliterated.

And the cover, which is beautiful as always:

Phoenix Call (The Ardere Series, Book 4)

This was another wonderful, exciting book by the very talented Margo Ryerkerk! I have loved the Ardere series so far and couldn’t wait to read the latest installment. Here are a few of my thoughts on this book- minor spoilers may follow if you are new to the series!

Right off the bat, I thought it was pretty cool that Sierra and Gavin have become so proficient at using the lapis pendant to communicate. It came in handy several times throughout this book, too, as it seems that Sierra has way too many near- death experiences to count. That girl is a beacon for trouble, though I don’t really fault her- she can’t help that she a Fluidus and her insane uncle is out to get her!

Can we talk about how the Elite Ardere just need to go away already? The snobbiness of these people is totally unreal- but not unrealistic, as I assume there are probably people in high society who act this way. Nevertheless, several betrayals occur throughout the book, and it makes me wonder whose side everyone is really on.

Throughout Phoenix Call, Sierra and her friends are trying to find the other half of the Phoenix pendant before her uncle Cormac does. They seem to be just a step behind him the entire time, which is frustrating! Of course, Cormac does manage to get the pieces together, resulting in dire consequences. I cannot even imagine how this series is going to wrap up with the next book. Dark days are ahead for the world, that is for sure!

I give Phoenix Call 5/5 stars, and am anxiously awaiting the final book in the series!

My Animal Crossing Memories!

One of the first friends I ever made here on the wonderful WordPress community, Yvonne, has been doing a series on her blog called Animal Crossing Memories. In the series, a blogger writes about the various memories they have with Animal Crossing, and the entries are quite charming to read! Recently, Yvonne contacted me and asked if I wanted to write my own post about it and be featured on her site, and I thought that was very sweet of her to consider me! You can find my entry on her blog here, or just keep reading! 🙂

(Of course, the first paragraph is just a little into about me for Yvonne’s readers who don’t know me, so feel free to skip past that if you want!)

Hey everyone! My name is Brandi. I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember, and I enjoy many different types of games. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Nintendo games, but I have love for all platforms! A couple years ago, I decided to combine my love of gaming with my love of writing, and I started a blog. That’s how I met Yvonne!

Recently, Yvonne contacted me and asked if I wanted to be featured on her wonderful site, writing about some of my Animal Crossing memories! I thought that was very sweet of her to consider me, so here I am! 🙂

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My obsession with Animal Crossing started when I saw it featured in Nintendo Power as an upcoming title for the GameCube. I was instantly intrigued, because the idea of living in a little village populated with only animals and no pesky humans sounded like a great escape to me!

I got the game the day it was released in North America. I remember that day, too- I was 16 years old, and my mom and I had taken my dog to get surgery done on her leg. While we were waiting, we popped over to Target and bought a few things, Animal Crossing being one of them! The second I booted the game up and K.K. Slider began playing his guitar for me, I knew I was in for something unique.

I put SO MANY hours into the GameCube version of Animal Crossing over the years! Every day was something different. I loved how the villagers acted, I loved how it was all played in real time, I loved the music that played every hour… never before had a game captured my heart in the way this game did. I thought it was such an amazing concept. Also, the holidays were so much fun to play!

I also really appreciated the fact that the seasons changed. Considering I live in a state in the USA where we don’t exactly have four defined seasons, it was nice to experience something different- especially the snow! 🙂

As the years went by, I continued to purchase and play every subsequent version of Animal Crossing that came out. Wild World, City Folk, New Leaf, Happy Home Designer, Welcome amiibo, Wild World (Wii U Virtual Console), New Leaf: Welcome amiibo… I have them all! I also obtained a version of Doubutsu no Mori for the Nintendo 64 a couple years back, and I love playing that as well (even if my Japanese isn’t very good). I have Doubutsu no Mori + and Doubutsu no Mori e+ for the GameCube as well- I just need to convert my spare GameCube into a Japanese GameCube so I can play! I also play Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for the iPhone (though I refuse to partake in microtransactions- I just enjoy the game casually!).

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When it comes down to it, I guess you can say I’m probably a little obsessed with Animal Crossing. I don’t mind one bit! I do wish I had more time to check in on all my villagers in my various towns, though- but such is life. I know whenever I get the chance to, they’ll be there waiting for me, happy as ever to see me!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Animal Crossing memories!

 

End Game Thoughts: Doubutsu no Mori!

Something I thought would be fun to do is write a few thoughts down after I beat a game. Not a review, exactly, just what I liked and didn’t like about the game, how long it took me to beat, etc. No in-depth writing, just my rambling thoughts! I thought of this idea a few months back, and I’ve actually beaten a few games since then (go me!). The first game on my list is Doubutsu no Mori!

AF N64 Front

Game Title: Doubutsu no Mori
Platform: Nintendo 64
Hours Played: approximately 20

About The Game

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Doubutsu no Mori is the first game in the Animal Crossing series. It was only released in Japan, so I played the game entirely in Japanese. It’s a life simulation game, and you live in a village populated entirely by animals. I considered the game beaten when I paid off my house- though it certainly is open-ended and can continue to be played and enjoyed for many years!

What I Liked

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Well, it’s Animal Crossing, so of course I loved it! I loved the simplicity of the day to day life in Doubutsu no Mori- chatting with villagers, decorating my house, fishing, digging up fossils… there is something so relaxing about it! I love how since the game was released in Japan, there are Japanese holidays I can take part in. It’s interesting to see some of the cultural differences!

What I Didn’t Like 

I was a little disappointed in the fact that dressers and other storage chests only hold one item each! Since the house is only one huge main floor, it makes it really hard to have a place to put extra items. Likewise, music players can only hold one song at a time. Also, you can only hold 50,000 bells at one time, which is more annoying than you might think. These are all little nitpicky things, though, and they don’t really detract from the game itself.

Closing Thoughts

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I love this game! I am excited that I finally paid off my house, but that doesn’t mean I’m done playing. Like all my other Animal Crossing towns, I will still play Doubutsu no Mori and check in on all my little villagers!

Another (Sort of) Liebster Award!

I’ve done this once before from my good blogging friend The Shameful Narcissist, but I figured… why not do it again? 😉 Back in May, she received a Liebster Award and invited anyone to answer her questions. I love doing this type of stuff, so I thought I’d jump on board! The link to her post is here, and please go check her out- she’s awesome, and I’ve learned A LOT about Final Fantasy from her! Without further ado, here are her questions!

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1.  What is your favorite musical instrument?

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I want to attend The School of Rock!

I love the guitar! I just love the way it sounds. I used to love playing the guitar, too, until my stupid hands decided they’d rather develop arthritis and carpal tunnel instead of letting me live out my rockstar dreams. Fuck you, hands!

2.  What video game world and/or locale would you live in?

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Looks spooky and fun… why not? 😉

I’ve chosen one of these before, but I’ll try to go with a different place this time. Hmm… I know! In the spirit of Halloween, I’d love to live in Luigi’s Mansion. It’d be full of spooky fun! I’d try to make friends with all the ghosts, especially that little ghost doggy, whose name currently escapes me.

3.  What holiday do you hate the most?

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So much pink! So much glitter!

Blasphemy! I love all holidays because most of them are a great excuse for my family to get together. But if there is one that I like a little less than the others, it would be Valentine’s Day. I’m not really a huge fan of pink stuff, hearts, and flowers everywhere. Ick!

4.  What’s your favorite type of pet?

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This isn’t my dragon, but just look HOW CUTE they are when they sleep!! ❤

Oh man… this is really hard for me to say! I’ve had many type of pets over the years, and I’ve loved them all for different reasons! Hmm… well, I just can’t pick. Right now I have a dog, a cat, a bearded dragon, a fish, an axolotl, and 4 turtles, and I feel like I’d be choosing my favorite child lol. I will say that I LOVE having a bearded dragon, though. They are so fun and cuddly, despite their prehistoric appearance. ❤ Give reptiles a chance!

5.  What’s your phobia (if you feel like sharing it)?

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I refuse to look up a picture of a roach… so here’s a cute duck instead.

Oh god… roaches. Disgusting, creepy roaches. They are a mainstay where I live because of the humid environment, but man… if you ever want to see me completely lose my shit, have a roach crawl by me. I lose all dignity and I will scream, jump on top of tables, knock people over to get out of the way…. it’s pathetic. I realize it’s a bit of an irrational fear because it’s not like they bite or anything, but they are just so GROSS I can’t handle it. And when they fly? Forget it. I am almost having a fucking heart attack right now just thinking about one making a beeline for my face.

6.  What’s your preferred social media site?

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Ha!

I don’t really have one! I don’t really participate, haha. I don’t care what people are doing every second of the day, and I don’t care to share what I’m doing either! I guess the only social media site I’m part of is Pinterest, but I don’t go on there to be social…. and most of the people I “follow” I don’t know anyway!

7.  What book did you read as a child that now disappoints you as an adult?

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Wish I still had all these, even if they aren’t as good as I remember them!

I’ve been making it a habit to re-read some of my favorite childhood books every now and then. Some of my favorite series as a kid were The Baby-Sitters Club, Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Animorphs. I have to say, the past couple Fear Street books I’ve read were kind of lame-o. The plots are thin and the characters are a bit annoying… oh well. I’d still read them again anyway.

8.  What’s your favorite type of ice cream?

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Delish!

Coffee flavored! I don’t eat much ice cream anyway, but when I do, I mostly always buy coffee flavored. I used to get it when I was a kid because no one else in my house liked it, so I would have it all to myself *evil laugh*

9.  Roughly how many video games and/or books do you own?

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This room would be my happy place! 

A LOT of video games! Between my husband and I, we have over 1700 games! That number is inflated a bit by all the plug-and-play systems that have many games on them. Even without those, that would still put our total around like 1200 or so. Hey, I have no shame. It’s a hobby I enjoy, and it helps that I kept all of my games throughout the years, you know? As far as books, between physical copies, manga, and my Kindle, a few hundred maybe? It sucks because I did not hold on to many of the books I had when I was younger, which I am kicking myself in the ass for. I am downloading some of my childhood favorites on my Kindle though, so I’m slowly rebuilding my collection.

10.  Who is your favorite MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) character?

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Yay for Groot!

It’s kind of hard for me to say, honestly. I enjoy Marvel movies and such, but I’m not exactly an extreme fan of any one character. Maybe I’ll just say Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies 😉

11.  What is your favorite cartoon?

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I love him.

SpongeBob Squarepants. Oh, how I love SpongeBob. The show is completely ridiculous, but I don’t care. It makes me laugh and it’s great to watch when you want to veg out and think about absolutely nothing! I also really like Family Guy.

Bonus Question:  Can you answer The Riddle of the Sphinx (no Googling!)?

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I feel like this is something I knew a long time ago, but it’s escaped my mind now 😉 Oops!

So there you have it! These questions are always fun to answer! 🙂

My Gaming Month in Review: September 2018!

Yeah, October is almost halfway over and I am just now posted this… sorry! I would really love to be back on a more consistent posting schedule. I just don’t have much energy lately 😦

Also, sorry if this post is a little boring because there aren’t any screenshots or anything. I did take some, but lack the motivation to edit and insert them. Ah well.

Console

Nintendo Switch

In Super Mario Odyssey, I finished up the Snow Kingdom- I had to participate in a race which was actually pretty fun. The way the little Shiverian I was controlling bounced around was slightly tricky, but I managed to win.

After saying goodbye to the Snow Kingdom, I headed to the Luncheon Kingdom, which was bright and colorful and full of food!

However, despite the kingdom’s whimsical look, this place was a death trap! I died more than once getting stuck in the purple… lava stuff? I don’t really know what it was. Anyway, at one point I possessed a piece of meat.

That was one of the weirdest things I’ve done in the game so far. I then finished off the Luncheon Kingdom by battling Cookatiel.

Next up was the Ruined Kingdom… I loved the look of this kingdom! So dark, gloomy and ominous. I fought a bad ass dragon, and I thought he was a lot of fun. Too bad there wasn’t more to do in this kingdom, though.

After the dragon, I headed to Bowser’s Kingdom. I loved the Japanese aesthetic! It was really cool. This kingdom was basically a gauntlet of stuff that wanted to kill me…. not to mention the horribly aggravating boss, Robobrood! I couldn’t wait to be done with that fucker.

Finally, I got to the Moon Kingdom. Because, you know, Bowser wanted to get married on the moon! The way the church bells rang was pretty eerie. I had to do some ass backwards stuff to get to the hill the church was on, but that’s okay. It was time to face Bowser, which was a fight similar to the fight in Cloud Kingdom. I managed to whip his butt after a few tries, but then shit started going down and crumbling all around me. So I did the natural thing to do… I possessed Bowser and started destroying everything to get us out of there! It was a fun and frantic way to end the game!

With that being said, I beat Super Mario Odyssey! One thing I love about this game (which I know many of you already know) is that the end game is so expansive- there are so many reasons to keep playing even after the credits roll! I spent quite awhile in Mushroom Kingdom afterwards, just wandering around and collecting Power Moons. Speaking of Power Moons, my current total is 161- so I have a LONG way to go!

Handheld

Nintendo 3DS

My husband bought me WarioWare Gold, and I started playing it right away! WarioWare is one of those series I’ve always loved since the first game came out on the Game Boy Advance! WarioWare Gold has many microgames from the past games in the series, as well as new ones!

There are a few different “leagues” of microgames, each with a different host character. My favorite has always been Ashley 😉

I’ve already played through all of the Mash League and the Twist League. I’m currently on the Touch League with 9-Volt! So far, I am in love with this game. The microgames are quick, weird, and fast- paced!

Mobile

iPhone

I am plugging away with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. One event in September was Brewster’s Sweet Harvest, which was a gardening event. I didn’t mind this event, actually, even though I don’t really care for gardening events. However, it seems like the catch rate was improved this time around, which really helped! Plus, you got sweet grape related furniture, and I really loved the look of it.

Another event going on this month was the Blitz Clam Scavenger Hunt. It’s basically just like the gyroid scavenger hunts, but with blitz clams, which are items from Splatoon. I’m not very familiar with the Splatoon games, so I can’t say much about them. Anyway, you collected the clams to craft Splatoon- related clothing with them, and they are kind of cool!

There was also Fishing Tourney #6 this month, which also featured Splatoon- themed prizes. Plus, you got to catch colorful squid and octopus (octopi?)!

Also, Jack’s Halloween Hunt (a gardening event) began! I LOVE HALLOWEEN SO MUCH! All the spooky prizes you can get from this event are amazing. However… it didn’t start out too promising. Barely any bats spawned on my flowers, dammit!

Um also… the spooky terrains are awesome but HELL NO I’m not spending like $30 to get all of it! Pisses me off. I want to earn these things by playing the game, not by spending money on them.

I’m currently at Level 95, and I have 111/ 113 animals invited to my camp!

I played a bit of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery this month as well. I still need to complete my classes to finish off Year 1, Chapter 7, but I got sidetracked by Hagrid’s Birthday Party preparations. I didn’t finish those either, oops!

Other

SNES Classic

I’ve decided to revisit a couple of my favorite games on the SNES Classic this month. First up is Donkey Kong Country, which remains one of my favorite games of all time. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve played through and beaten this game, but I enjoy it every time! And the crazy jumps in Mine Cart Carnage (as well as the anxiety- inducing music) always make my hands sweaty no matter how many times I play it!

I am currently in World 2: Monkey Mines, Level 5: Millstone Mayhem.

I also played a bit of Super Mario Kart. While I am a huge Mario Kart 8/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fan, I at times miss the simplicity of the original. No blue shells, no real drifting… just good old- fashioned kart racing! I played through the 50cc Mushroom Cup, and I won the gold.

That’s all the gaming I did in September! See ya next time!

Book Review: Souls of Three by Ashley McCleo!

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review for the first book in the Starseed Trilogy, Prophecy of Three. All my reviews for the Starseed Trilogy are up on Goodreads, but I wanted to get them all posted on my blog to give the awesome author, Ashley McCleo, some extra exposure! Anyway, the second book in the series is Souls of Three. Here’s the blurb for it:

Evelyn Locksley, water witch, siren, and heiress is back home in New York City. She’s having a blast, running the boardroom like a boss and frequenting hot clubs for some scandalous siren practice.

That is until Evelyn is taken hostage by fata cronies, the Acolytes of Hecate. Locked in a magically warded basement Evelyn witnesses the Acolyte’s strength and begins to doubt that anyone on Earth stands a chance against the fata.

***

Lily Whiplark is still reeling over the loss of her beloved family member, at the hands of the Acolytes. After hearing of Evelyn’s flamboyant and selfish behavior in New York when she’s supposed to be in Ireland training for a supernatural war, Lily’s grief morphs into fury that not even triplet peacekeeper, Sara, can quell.

When Lily learns of Evelyn’s abduction will she be able to put their vast differences aside to save her sister?

***

Will the sisters be able to overcome their rocky past to band together against the fata and Acolytes of Hecate?

And the gorgeous cover:

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Here’s what I wrote for my review on Goodreads:

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review! 🙂

I couldn’t wait to read Souls of Three, the second novel in The Starseed Trilogy! The characters are so well crafted and fun. This book continues shortly after the point where Prophecy of Three ended. The triplets (Lily, Evelyn, and Sara) are somewhat split up since both Lily and Evelyn wanted to go back to their respective families before continuing their magical training with their birth family.

In the beginning of this book, Evelyn really annoyed me. She seemed as self- centered as ever, though I was surprised to see how much she actually cared about her family’s business. Without giving away any spoilers, A LOT happens to her in this book, and I was pretty sympathetic toward her character in the end.

Lily also has her own problems she is working through in this book, and I felt like she was a bit bratty and self- centered as well at times. The neat thing about Lily is that she realizes she is acting this way, and grows as a person throughout the book. It’s great to see a character who is actively working on making herself a better person.

In this book, we learn that the universe is perhaps in greater danger than everyone first thought because of the fata. The triplets quickly become more comfortable with their powers- though I feel for them, because the weight of the world seems to rest squarely on their shoulders.

Anyway, this book was so entertaining, and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next one! 🙂

I gave Souls of Three a rating of 5/5 stars. Soon, I’ll post a review of the final book in the series, as well as a novella. Thanks for reading!

10 Things That Make Me Happy!

This is a big of a different style blogging tag, as it is not exclusively gaming related. I saw this tag back in April on the always- awesome blog of The Shameful Narcissist, and she left the tag open to anyone… so here I am, late to the party as usual! Hey, better 5 months late than never, right? 😉

Anyway, the whole point of this entry is simple: List 10 things that make you happy. Despite the fact that I think I am a bit of a realist and am often cynical (which some people see as me being pessimistic *rolls eyes*), I actually am pretty easy to please. I do look for the things that will make me happy, and I hold onto those things with an iron grip; in the end, those are the things that are most important. Besides, I don’t know when I’m going to croak, so I might as well focus on things that are enjoyable, right? Right! So here ya go: 10 thing that make me happy!

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1. Family and Friends

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Despite the fact that this is a numbered list, all the items are pretty much equal… except for this one! My family means the world to me, every single one of them. I was lucky enough to grow up in a fantastic (if not a bit unconventional) environment, and as a result am close to pretty much all of my family members. Of course, my husband is my family too, and I am grateful for him! With my husband came a whole new set of family members to get to know and enjoy, so when I say “family” here, I am referring to everyone on my side as well as everyone on his side 🙂

I also include friends here, because I do not have many friends. This is my choice… I choose to only have a handful of close friends over many acquaintances, because it just seems pointless to me to have so many people in my inner circle. I’m not really a social butterfly at all either, so my idea of friendship is often just texting, or chatting here on our blogs! 🙂

2. Video Games

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Well, obviously! 😉 This blog wouldn’t exist if they didn’t make me happy! Video games are my #1 hobby, and they pretty much always have been. I play when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m sick, when I need distraction… etc. I just LOOK at my video game collection, and I am happy.

3. Reading

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Reading is also something that makes me very happy. I’ve always been a reader, too, and I enjoy picking up a book and being transported to a different world. For that reason, I prefer to read fiction, because I’d rather read some shit that is made up just for my entertainment!

4. Animals

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I am a huge animal lover. I love most critters- from the fuzzy to the scaly to the furry and everything in between! (Just… not some insects, okay? I’m talking about roaches in particular- those disgusting fucks!) Just being around animals makes me more zen. I have several pets of my own, but I’ve often been told that I tend to spoil every animal that I know.

5. The beach/ pool

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I’ve lived in Florida my entire life, so there’s always a beach or pool close by. When I lived at my grandparents’ house growing up, I could swim whenever I wanted since they had a pool! Anyway, I find that being out in the sunshine and near the water is very cathartic for me. If I could spend the entire day lounging on a raft, I would.

6. Music

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I love listening to music! I do it quite often- when I’m driving, when I’m cleaning, when I’m reading… you get the picture. I’m sort of becoming an old fuddy duddy in the fact that I don’t like a lot of newer music that has come out recently- I like to stick to my old favorites! My favorite genres are heavy metal and hard rock along with some reggae, but there are songs that I like in pretty much every genre. A special shout out to punk rock for getting me through my teenage years! 😉

7. Horror/ Skulls/ Other Goth Stuff

This is beautiful!

I’ve always been drawn to the darkness, what can I say? 😉 I love horror movies and horror novels. The scarier, the better! I also love scary artwork. I’m endlessly fascinated by anything that goes bump in the night. And skulls? Skulls are my favorite. I have a lot of shirts and socks that have skulls on them, I have tons of skull jewelry… I even have a skull tattoo. I don’t know quite why the darkness fascinates me so much, but I just roll with it.

8. Writing

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If writing didn’t make me happy, I wouldn’t be doing this blog, but anyway… I love sitting down with a good old fashioned pen and paper and seeing what kind of crazy ideas I can come up with. Problem is, I am the absolute worst at finishing anything I start, so I have like 30 stories that aren’t done. Maybe one day I’ll actually finish one.

9. Holidays

free halloween printables | Last Minute FREE Halloween Printables from our Members | Catch My ...

What holidays make me happy? All of them! Holidays both big and small are a great excuse for me to get together with my family and have a blast. It doesn’t really matter what the occasion is! Plus, any holiday that gets me off work is a bonus! Just don’t make me choose between Halloween and Christmas. I can’t pick!

10. Chips/ French Fries

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This may be a stupid response to wrap up my list, but here’s the cold hard truth: I am human. I try to eat healthy, but I don’t always succeed. And sometimes all I want is a big bag of potato chips. Or a large fry. And dammit, I don’t care if it’s bad for me. There are worse vices in the world.

Well, there you have it! 10 things that make me happy. Honorable mentions go to nail polish, pens in many different colors, candles that smell like baked goods, and many other little things that bring a smile to my face.