I Finally Did It! Check Me Out on Etsy!

So something that people might not know about me is that I love making art. When I was in kindergarten, my grandmother would bring me along to art lessons that she would take and I fell in love.

All throughout school, art was always my favorite subject. In high school, I took as many art classes as I could. I really enjoyed portraits back then, and would always be drawing pictures of my friends and favorite celebrities.

I *almost* decided to go to school for art, but ended up choosing journalism as my major instead. Even then, I kept up with my interest in art and ended up working as a blogger for the Tyler Student Life page at the Tyler School of Art. I got to talk to students and artists, see their work, and start conversations about art and working as an artist. It was something that I really enjoyed.

Life’s gotten in the way a little bit since then, so I haven’t really had the time to sit down and draw or paint, but thanks to my current job I’ve been able to travel the world. Seeing the beautiful architecture in other countries, visiting art museums, and just enjoying life have really made me want to get back into the art world.

Then came COVID and here I was sitting at home bored out of my mind. Like many others, I decided to order art supplies from Michael’s and Amazon (which wasn’t easy because everything was pretty much sold out). I finally picked up the paintbrush again! And I’m actually not that bad at it.

I decided to open an Etsy account so that my artwork doesn’t keep piling up at my house. It’s really just something for fun, but I appreciate any one who’s willing to check it out.

I have tons of photos from my travels that I plan on painting and selling on the shop, BUT FIRST! I’ve been painting photos of my family’s dogs on ornaments and decided to offer it as a custom ornament on the shop. It’s just a start, but here’s a link if you want to see it for yourself: Custom Hand-Painted Dog Ornaments.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to share. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and check out my new venture 🙂

Visit KaylaCropperArt on Etsy!

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I really don’t know why, but it took me forever to get through this book. I think it may have been because it was so similar to the show that it wasn’t really interesting to me, or didn’t really add anything to the story enough for me to stay interested. Honestly though, that’s a compliment to the show because it means they did really well with the details!

I will say, the story did get a lot more interesting once we got to the murders and what Grace did remember. I did also like that we got to see Dr. Jordan meeting with more people that knew Grace and that he went to the house where the murders took place.

I expected the hypnotism to be more exciting in the book, but I guess it can’t be too sensational if it’s supposed to be believable. The acting in the show was perfect and made this scene so creepy!

One thing I really didn’t like was how both Jeremiah and Dr. Jordan kind of fled after the hypnotism. It seemed like both of them were trying to be helpful and then it was like they both just gave up. I really thought that they would help her get out sooner, but I guess since this is fiction based on a true story we wouldn’t be able to have her get out of the penitentiary earlier than she actually did.

It was also disappointing that Dr. Jordan’s memory was affected in the war, resulting in him being no help to Grace whatsoever. Honestly it made his whole role in the story pretty pointless. I’m not sure how much of this is historically accurate, but if this is what really happened then that really sucks.

Although I’m not sure myself whether Grace was innocent or if she was suffering from some sort of mental/post-traumatic stress disorder, I am glad that she was pardoned and was able to live the rest of her life with some sort of freedom. She definitely was very unlucky in life, so it was nice that she sort of had a happy ending. Not sure that I wanted her to end up with Jamie, but honestly it could’ve been way worse.

I hope she did have a happy ending. It would be nice to know what really happened.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I’ll admit, I was only interested in reading Wuthering Heights again because of how often it was mentioned in the After series. Honestly, I think I’ve been assigned to read this book probably at least 3 times throughout high school and college, but I’m not sure I ever actually read it all the way through.

I feel like I could probably write a whole essay on how I feel about this book, but I’ll try to keep it short.

From the beginning I felt bad for Heathcliff. Cathy is kind of a spoiled brat and the way that she puts on a different face for everyone else is pretty annoying. She clearly loves Heathcliff and can really be herself with him, but seems to care more about money and that Edgar will be able to provide the nicer life.

She’s honestly a pretty terrible person and does/says things that she knows will hurt people. It’s interesting that she ended up this way and that Hindley was a terrible man, especially because their father was so nice and they had Nelly around their whole lives, and she should have been a good influence.

Cathy and Heathcliff are a good match because he is equally as terrible as her. It’s kind of her fault that he ended up this way, but he also only seems to do things that he knows will hurt people. It’s terrible what they do to Isabella and I’m glad that she runs away from him.

It’s pretty drastic that Heathcliff felt the need to destroy the entire Linton family just because Cathy decided to marry someone else. At the end it does seem like he starts to realize that it was all for nothing, so I guess that’s good.

This story is really just about people causing each other pain and suffering because they were more worried about their social status, which is pretty sad.

I was glad that Catherine (the daughter) ends up with Hareton at the end. Those the close family relation between everyone in the second generation of Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs is super weird. The only character I really felt sorry for the whole time was Hareton. It made me really sad when Catherine made fun of him for trying to learn how to read to impress her. He was honestly the other character that tried to improve his situation instead of hurting other people.

The ghost element to the story was interesting, but I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessary. I think it would’ve been better if Cathy was just gone forever rather than Heathcliff searching for her ghost. I guess I just wish it would’ve been more important to the storyline, than just something that was at the beginning and the end.

It’s definitely a complicated story. I’m glad that I’ve finally actually read the whole thing. Probably won’t do it again though.

Before by Anna Todd

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading Before after reading the rest of the After series. I really didn’t want to read about the way Hardin was before Tessa, but I’m glad that I did read it.

At first I was a little put off by this book. When it started out with the back stories of Natalie, Molly, and Steph I definitely wasn’t sure I would finish it. I really didn’t want to hear the details of their hook-ups with Hardin, so I’m glad that it didn’t go any further, but then also it made the introductions to their point of view seem really pointless.

It was interesting to see the first book from Hardin’s point of view. It was kind of surprising how much Molly was actually being helpful and trying to protect Tessa. I thought there would be more from Molly’s perspective and Steph’s too, so it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see that during their relationship. Again, it made it really pointless to introduce their point of view in the beginning.

I really didn’t care about Christian’s part in this book. It didn’t add anything to the overall story. Seeing  what happened with Zed after everything was alright, but again not necessary. I did like the little glimpse into Smith’s world though.

I actually preferred the “Hessa” ending in this book to how it ended in After Ever Happy. The little glimpse into how they ended up was much better than all the time jumps. I don’t think I realized that they never got married until Hardin said it. I guess I just assumed that they had done it at some point.

I read some reviews for the Landon books and I’m not sure that I’m going to read them. Landon was an okay character, but I don’t really feel like he needed his own series. The reviews were basically what I expected and I think I’ve read enough of the universe. We already know that he becomes a teacher, gets married, and has a daughter. I think that’s enough really. I just feel like his story would be much more “vanilla” in comparison to Hardin and Tessa’s story.

After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

What a roller coaster this series has been. The fourth book in this series definitely had more ups and downs than any of the others. Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.

So the story picks up with Hardin finding out that Vance is his father. He absolutely loses it and ends up on a bender and abandoning Tessa yet again. She’s fed up, ready to be done with Hardin and goes home only to find her father dead of a drug overdose in their apartment. WHAT? I swear my jaw dropped when I read this part.

Hardin comes back and is finally ready to change, but Tessa isn’t ready to take him back. Really who could blame her? It’s not like he has a great track record and he apologizes over and over for the same things. It does seem like he’s changing this time.

Tessa ends up moving to New York with Landon and Hardin comes for a visit. Everything seems good UNTIL she finds out that he’s written a book about their love story. She reads it and seems to love it, but then we time jump and find out that she didn’t take him back yet.

They still love each other and decide to get married, but then they don’t. The ending time jumps a few more times (not a fan, by the way) and eventually you find out that they did get married and they have two biological children even though the doctor told her she would struggle to get pregnant.

I’m happy with how the story ended. I wish they didn’t have so many time jumps at the end. It would’ve been fine I think to just have one time jump in the epilogue that showed Hardin with little Emery and Tessa pregnant with Auden. We didn’t need the rest of that really.

I’m going to read Before next just because I’m interested in what that could possibly be about and how it’ll make me feel about Hardin now that I love the new and improved version of him.

I may also read the Landon series. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I like how Anna Todd set it up and didn’t really tell us who he was married to. I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the spin-off series. Are Tessa and Hardin in it too? I’ll definitely read it if they’re in it too.

After We Fell by Anna Todd

Finished with book three! I can’t believe there’s only one left to the series (not counting the one that’s about Hardin’s life before Tessa). I purposely tried to drag this one out because I really don’t want these books to end.

These books really are like a soap opera, which I guess is why they’re so addictive. There are so many twists and turns, so many secrets, so much betrayal. It’s kind of crazy because I definitely felt like Tessa deserved better when I was reading the first book, but now I’m 100% in support of their relationship because I really don’t believe anyone could love Tessa more than Hardin, even if his love is kind of all consuming.

I’m about to get into spoilers so stop reading if you’re actually going to read these books.

The thing that happened with Steph at the beginning was crazy. I definitely was not expecting that and couldn’t believe that this whole time she had a thing for Hardin and was mad that he was with Tessa. I did question why she didn’t tell Tessa about the bet if she was truly her friend, but I didn’t really think that she would go this far. Anna Todd did set up everything with Dan though, he obviously would try to get revenge. I also owe Zed an apology for thinking he’d actually send texts from Hardin’s phone.

Everything at the end with Vance was pretty shocking too. It kept being hinted at that Vance had loved someone other than his first wife and Kimberly, but I’m not sure I would have guessed that it’d be Trish. Once Hardin caught them together I absolutely knew that this was where it was going. I also couldn’t imagine reading that and then having to wait for another book to be released. I need to keep reading to find out what happens.

I mentioned already that I fully support their relationship now, which is kind of funny because it’s definitely something I didn’t expect. I could understand the attraction to each other, but they seemed so toxic. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but with all the other people in their lives having toxic relationships as well it almost makes theirs not so bad. Yes they fight and Hardin is way too controlling of Tessa, but for the most part they don’t lie to each other and they don’t cheat.

I’m really rooting for them in the next book. I hope their relationship continues to get stronger and that Hardin comes around and finally agrees to marry Tessa. Also hope that they make this book into a movie as well. I need it to be a movie.

I found out that there’s a book series about Landon too. I’m kind of curious how that one is and whether or not it’s worth reading. I wonder if Hardin and Tessa make appearances in those books. I might actually read them if they do.

After We Collided by Anna Todd

When I read through a book really quickly sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what exactly I want to say about it. I think it’s safe to say that the After series has me hooked.

At first I was a little put off by the perspective changes, but it was kind of nice to see things from Hardin’s point of view. I always think back to this creative writing class that I had in college where the professor told us that switching the narrator is lazy writing, but I think sometimes it can be done really well and add to the story.

The relationship between Tessa and Hardin in this book was definitely a roller coaster ride. They have so many highs and lows, it’s hard to keep up with. It’s exactly what I was expecting to happen when I finished the first book, and I plan on reading the others, but I really hope it’s not the same thing over and over again. I want to see these characters grow and stop being so toxic to each other.

I kind of wish that Anna Todd would have built more into Zed being a bad guy. I feel like until he took Hardin’s phone to text Tessa I really didn’t believe that Hardin was telling the truth about Zed not having good intentions. I wish there was some foreshadowing to this. Maybe there was and I just missed it?

I really am curious to see what could possibly happen in the next two books. I’ve seen that the fifth book takes place before everything, so that should be interesting to read.

I’m sure I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the third book.

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been meaning to read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks for awhile, and even bought a paperback copy from the bookstore when I went about a year ago, but it’s taken me this long to finally pick it up and read through it. I’m so glad I finally did.

I think in order for me to really enjoy a book I have to either be really interested in what it’s about or I have to be able to somehow relate parts of the story to my life. With this one in particular, there were a lot of things in the story line that I felt I could relate to.

Although I was  a journalism major in college, I took an art major class and actually had considered switching my major because I enjoyed it so much. Still kind of wish I would have done something with art in college. I kind of admired that Sophia had chosen it with her background and having immigrant parents who worked really hard just to survive in a new country. I know she’s a fictional character, but I feel like if she were real it would be a really difficult decision to pursue something you’re passionate about rather than something that will help you land a good job. I respected her for that.

Ira and Ruth’s art collection was also a fascinating part of the story for me. Almost makes me want to start collecting art, but I’m not sure I have the eye that Ruth had. This kind of ties in with me wanted to be an art history major. I just have always had an interest in the arts and it’s cool to think that there could’ve been a couple who lived and met all these amazing artists in their lifetime. Again, I know it’s fictional, but I really loved this part of the story line and how it tied the two couples together in the end.

And, of course, I’ve fallen for the guy who would work himself to death to help out his family. I could definitely see a lot of him in Luke, so that kept me interested. Being a hard worker and family-oriented is something that I absolutely find attractive in a man, so I could understand why Sophia would fall so hard. Definitely been there.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good love story in general? This one had a lot of depth to it and you could tell that Nicholas Sparks did a lot of research while writing. I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to read it and I feel like I should definitely read more of his work.

Any recommendations for what Nicholas Sparks book I should read next?

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

I had always heard that Frankenstein was boring for a horror novel and that it wasn’t really what most people expected. Though I am a huge horror fan, I haven’t read a lot of horror fiction and this was never really on my list of books I wanted to read.

One night recently I was looking for a movie to watch and decided to start the 2017 movie Mary Shelley staring Elle Fanning because the trailer looked pretty good. First of all, I thought the movie was great and I was kind of shocked to learn that most of what happened in the movie was true to Mary Shelley’s life. The reviews online aren’t great, but I really enjoyed it.

So after watching the movie I decided to finally read Frankenstein. I have to say, it wasn’t at all what I expected.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough, or maybe it was intentional, but I felt like the creation of the creature went by really quickly and I wasn’t even sure that it had actually been done when Frankenstein says that it opened its yellow eyes. With him rushing out and leaving the creature behind, I wasn’t sure if it was something that he had imagined doing or not, especially when it was missing once he finally came back.

For a while I questioned the existence of the creature. When his brother was murdered and Justine was found guilty and executed for the murder I still thought that maybe Frankenstein was just mad and paranoid.

Honestly it wasn’t until he actually had the conversation with the creature that I believed it even existed. The creature’s story was really sad. He just wanted someone to accept him for what he was and not run away because of his appearance. You can kind of understand how he would end up so angry with Frankenstein after trying over and over to prove that he wasn’t some monster.

Just want to say here that it doesn’t make any sense for the creature to have learned to speak so well. That was the only thing that bothered me about the whole story. Curious if anyone else thought this as well when reading.

I understand that Frankenstein didn’t want to create another monster to put out in to the world, but also understood why the creature would be so upset to learn that his creator refused him some sort of happiness.

Frankenstein ends up losing everyone he loves to the vengeance of the creature and then spends the rest of his life hunting him down. There is a nice moment at the end when Frankenstein dies and the creature feels sad and regretful that he took away Frankenstein’s happiness and ultimately made him waste his life. It was pretty interesting that they both sort of felt this regret that they had caused each other so much pain.

I didn’t think the story was boring at all, and I actually found myself wanting to keep reading after finishing a chapter. It wasn’t very scary, but it was definitely interesting and well written. I can’t believe Mary Shelley was 18 when she started writing this. Kind of incredible honestly.