A Clearing in the Forest Review

Princess Adriana is about to leave the Kingdom of Ayrden on the Journey of her sixteenth year

If she is to ever to ascend the throne, Adriana must go-alone and unarmed-into the unknown. She’s been trained and gifted for the Journey, just like all the royals who preceded her-even the ones who never returned.

Adriana leaves Ayrden on Sultan, the black stallion gifted to her by her brother just the day at her birthday celebration. With bravery in her heart and hopes for a quick return, she soon encounters three paths: one of grass, one of gold, and one of gemstones. She chooses the pragmatic path of grass. Although it seems safe, and the landscape familiar, she quickly finds that she will have to overcome nearly  impossible challenges. Ultimately, an unexpected friendship changes not only Adriana, but the very kingdom that she someday hopes to rule. The question is, will the friendship turn into everlasting love?

Reading this fantasy book is an easy book to read. It was a nice read even though the journey could have been filled with even more challenges. The description of the plot made me hope the journey was more difficult than what I discovered. But as a matter of fact, the ending makes it appear as if this could easily become a series. So the ending left you off with a bit of a cliffhanger in a way.

                                                      Proclamation of Ayrden 

Be it known to all-

The Sovereigns of Ayrden

Shall not be deemed worthy to rule

By birthright alone.

Each royal descendant of Ayrden

Shall embark upon a Journey

During that descendant’s sixteenth year

Or forever give up any claim in the Throne.

Each descendant shall Journey forth

Alone and unarmed,

Carrying one day’s provision Only.

Upon a Sovereign’s death,

The Thorne shall pass to the eldest descendant

Who from his or her Journey hath returned.

If there be not such a one,

The deceased Sovereign’s eldest sibling.

Requisite Journey complete,

Shall assume the Throne.

This is an edict in perpetuity decreed by the

First King of Ayrden

Adriana, the main character, was given the gifts of fidelity, kindness, and courage to have with her when she left for her journey. She actually ended up heading on each of the different paths. On the first path, she came across her uncle, Kelak and he tied her up so she had to figure out how to escape. This took place in the land of Chehalem.

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The next path she took is the path of gold and she came across Corrigan and it took her a while until she realized he was a slave trader and had to leave before Corrigan noticed she was gone. The path where this situation took place was in the land of Shahar.

The last path, the path of gemstones, did not many challenges, but the land of Beryillos had a problem with the dragon, Zimley. So each of the different lands had something challenging Adriana had to face. I thought it was cool how while Zimley was still waiting to attack, they managed to stay protected by having their kingdom be an underground kingdom. One of the clothes that I loved that they wore were called chimangas.

Of all the different characters, my favorite character is Adriana. She shows a lot of courage on her journey especially when she was in Chehalem because she faced the most challenges there. On her journey she stayed strong even if she was going into the unknown. In the land of Beryillos, I loved the characters of Elissa and Theo and they were some of the few people on Adriana’s journey that were nice to her was well and even Redbud from Chehalem. But I just really loved Theo and Elissa. In Beryillos, Theo and Elissa were the ones she spent the most time with and she realized that over time she was falling in love with Theo.

I cannot believe I read two books over the summer already. First Oliver Twist and that was the hardest book I read over the summer due to it being classic. Next, A Clearing in the Forest was read and was the easiest book so far and it was a fantasy. The next book I will read, which I will start today, it called The Hundred Story Home and that is a nonfiction book.

 

Musical Characters Who Show Courage

What does brave mean? In the musical world, there are character who show courage. They show it in many ways. Below I will talk about some musical characters who show courage. In a lot of ways, these are characters that you can admire and fall in love with.

Possible Spoilers:

Elphaba is a character who shows courage. She shows courage despite how much she keeps on being misunderstood. She does not let anyone define who she is. She stands up for what she believes even though she risks being up against the Wizard. Elphaba knows the Wizard will use her for the wrong reasons so she defies him and decides to go on her own path. Even though this act causes the Wizard to believe she is wicked, she still stays passionate towards her cause.

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Enjolras, Gavroche, Marius and the students all show courage. They stay passionate towards what they believe in. They stand up against France’s weak government at the time. General Lamarque, the only left in the government who shows feelings for the poor, is dying. The students all decide to have an uprising. They are risking their lives for hope of a better France. They know they might die. After Eponine dies, they know they are outnumbered. But despite that, they stay stay passionate towards their cause. At the end all of the students died excluding Marius and even in death, they still were passionate towards their cause. Even Gavroche, who was just a boy, died on the barricades. The students were low on ammunition and he climbed over the barricade and died in the attempt.

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Eponine is another character from Les Mis who shows courage. She has to face terrible abuse from her parents and has to deal with extreme poverty. But when it comes to Marius, she is very protective of him. She loves him so much that she is willing to do anything for him. Even though the love for him is unrequited, she helps him find Cosette even if it risks losing Marius forever. She even shows courage when her father is about to rob Valjean’s house and out of love for Marius, she screams to alert Cosette, Marius, and Valjean. This act of courage causes her father to disown since his daughter just defied him and prevented him from robbing Valjean’s house.

Despite the heartbreak of Eponine’s love for Marius, she decides to join Marius on the barricade. In the stage version, Marius noticing that Eponine is there sends her away to deliver a letter to Cosette and he does that in order to protect her from the uprising. Eponine still returned to the barricade and that led to unfortunate circumstances. In the movie, seeing that Marius was about to get shot, she sacrificed her life for him. The wounds she received were fatal and she ended up dying in the arms of Marius. In fact, dying in Marius’ arms was the happiest time of her life. Marius was heartbroken over the fact that Eponine was dying, but he still stayed brave for her and still showed compassion in this moment.

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Jean Valjean showed courage as well. He showed courage after discovering that a man believed to be Valjean was going to be sent to jail. Valjean decided to intervene and prevented this man from being sent to prison. Valjean knows what it is like to be in prison and did want this man to face that same fate. He even showed courage after realizing that Cosette loves Marius. He learned that Marius is one of the student revolutionaries and went to the barricade to make sure Marius survives. When Marius falls unconscious, Valjean carried him to safety and the only way to escape was through the sewers.

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Crazy just how many characters from Les Mis showed courage. They risked their life in order to protect others. Both Eponine and Valjean risked their lives for Marius. Eponine did it out of love for Marius and Valjean did it out of love for Cosette. The students and Gavroche showed courage out of love for France. It seems that a lot of the characters in Les Mis show courage out of love for either a country or even someone else.

Even all the Newsies show courage. They decided to go on strike against Pultizer after he raised the price on papers. Even when they stopped work, they still stayed passionate towards their cause. This does led to a big fight, but even after that fight, they still stayed passionate about the strike, but does cause a lot of inner conflict in Jack.

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There is just something wonderful about musical characters who show courage. They can be admired. They teach you the importance of courage. In “Seize the Day” from Newsies, some of the lyrics are “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”.  Courageous characters show the importance of standing up for what you believe in. All of the characters who show courage is one important characteristic to a well-written character. All of the characters I talked about are characters that I love.

Standing Up For What You Believe In

I think there’s a stigma that one person can’t help make a change in the world. But it has to start with someone

-Jennifer DiNoia (A actress who played Elphaba on Broadway)

If you think about it, this is so true about life. Some musical characters actually do help make a difference.

Possible Spoilers:

Musical characters like Elphaba, Jack Kelly and Enjolras do help make a change. Elphaba is passionate about fighting for equal rights for everyone in OZ including the animals. She breaks against the stigma that one can’t help with making a change in the world, but she decides to go a separate route than the one the Wizard plans to do. The Wizard’s plan causes more harm than good. He wants to strip the animals of their right and plans to use Elphaba to do the magic for him, but she goes against him because she knows that is not right. The Wizard wants to use the flying monkeys as spies to spy on the animals, but Elphaba would rather give them equal rights. Through this circumstance, Elphaba discovers a whole new purpose in life and this when she truly matures.

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Than there is Enjolras, the leader of the friends of the abc. He is the most passionate of all the rebels. He is the one that really brings them together to go up against the very weak government. Even when he realizes that they are most likely going to lose, he still knows that their standing up for they believe in will encourage others to stand up against the government as well. He and the other rebels are warned several times that they should just give up, but Enjolras just doesn’t listen to them.

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Sometimes it can take a whole group to stand up for what they believe in. That is the case for the Newsies, but it was Jack Kelly’s idea to have the strike. They form a union and strike against Pulitzer and Hearst. They never once give up and this does cause Jack some inner conflict in act two especially since at the end of act one, he sees Crutchie being taken away to the Refuge. Jack is almost ready to give up, which is clearly shown through his solo, Santa Fe. But through the help of Katherine and Davey, he finds the courage again to continue what he and his brothers started.

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So sometimes, you might think that you may not make a change in the world. But change has to start with someone. When someone stands up for what they believe in, it takes great courage. It can be scary to stand up for what you believe in, but that is change truly comes from. Standing up for what you believe in truly shows who you are and shows bravery.

 

The World Will Know-Newsies

Yesterday, I finally owned the original Broadway soundtrack of Newsies. Newsies is the newest musical of my life and is meaningful. It is a Disney musical about the newsboy strike of 1899. To understand the strike, it is important to understand the life of these Newsies. A lot of the newsies are either orphans, homeless, or runaways. They survive off of selling the newspapers. But they are not allowed to sell back their papers. Before the strike, the distribution price was fifty cents per one hundred papers. However Pulitzer raised the price of their papers to sixty cents per paper, which is unfair to the Newsies and makes their jobs harder. To stand up to Pulitzer, the Newsies decided to go on strike.

As far as the musical Newsies goes, the main character is Jack Kelly, who is kind of like a father to the other Newsies in the stage show. He has quite a special relationship to Crutchie, who is more vulnerable than the other Newsies. Crutchie has a bum leg and has to walk around with the aid of a crutch. Jack is kind of protective of Crutchie and does not him to be sent to the Refuge. Jack knows firsthand how bad the Refuge is and knows just how vulnerable Crutchie will be there. Jack Kelly even has a talent for art.

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Other Newsies you get you know are Davey and Les, who are Newsies who actually have families, but who join them to help support their family. The strike happens in the same manner as the real strike. Pulitzer does raise the praise of their papers and these fictional characters create a union and go on strike.

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Another memorable character is Katherine Plumber and she is not in the movie. She ends up writing the article for the strike and becomes a love interest for Jack. At the end of act two, Jack has this inner conflict because he just saw Crutchie being arrested and knows that he will be sent to the Refuge. Jack was about ready to just give up on the strike, but in the second act Katherine helps Jack rejoin his brothers in the strike. Some people think romance is just thrown into a musical and is only there to add time. But romance in musicals is a wonderful thing because it transitions well to song.

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I think one of the main things that makes the story so strong is that it is actually based off of a true story.This show is filled with mind-blowing dance, memorable characters and a wonderful score. The score does have both positive and negative emotions. Some memorable songs include “Something to Believe In”, “Carrying the Banner”, “The World Will Know”, “Santa Fe”, and of course the anthem of the musical, “Seize the Day”. In any musical, the songs truly help bring out the emotion and in Newsies, the songs bring out both positive and negative emotions and when a show has both sets of emotions, it makes a musical much more real and gives real strength to the plot. Even the dance adds something special to Newsies. One of my favorite lines in Newsies is “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”.

 

Strength of being Brave, Strong, and Smart

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think

-Unknown

Humans are a very unique species. Sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves as much as we should. Sometimes it is easy to truly know how brave or strong or smart we really are. We are one of the most advanced species on this planet. As a college student, it is easy to forget how hard college is. To get through college, you have to get though academics and the social experience. Sometimes you have to do things outside your comfort zone.

The quote above is so true when it comes to life. Sometimes in dark times, it is hard to see the strength inside of us. In college, it is easy to forget how smart we are. Studying can drive you nuts in college and it can be hard to find the right motivation. You have to be so independent in order to thrive at college. Sometimes you even have to have courage during a really tough assignment. Courage means something different to everyone. Courage can mean taking risks in times of danger or it can mean to do things outside your comfort zone.

Next time, you don’t really believe in yourself or feel weak or feel not that smart, just remember the quote above. I know that I am braver I think I am and stronger than I think I am. I know I am a smart. determined, hardworking, optimistic student. Sometimes college just pulls you down and makes you feel less smart than you really are. Don’t let anyone stop you from being who you really are.

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Heroes in Musicals

What exactly makes a hero? Heroes always tend to stand up for what they believe in and show grand courage. As many know, I am a musical fanatic and I was thinking about what characters would be considered heroes.

In your opinion, what are some of the musical heroes? Below is an example, but I want you all to share your opinion on your musical heroes.

I feel as if the Newsies are heroes. To understand why they are heroes, you need to understand how difficult their lives are. They live in poverty and most are orphans or runaways. They have to survive off of the same salary by selling newspapers. The price they have to pay to purchase the newspapers they sell is 50 cents per 100 papers. Conflict comes in with Pulitzer decided to raise the price of the distributing price to 60 cents per 100 papers, which will force the Newsies to sell more papers, but they are not able to sell back the papers. They are heroes by standing up for what they believe in through a strike. The strike is protesting that they think it is unfair the price is raised.

So, I will let you decide on what musical characters do you think are heroes.

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Facing our Fears

Courage cannot erase our fear. Courage is when we face our fear

-“Seize the Day”- Newsies

I was listening to “Seize the Day” yesterday from the musical, Newsies. Newsies is a musical that I learned to love two weeks ago when I saw the musical with my family. Newsies is a musical about the paper boy strike of 1899. In this story, it is about Jack Kelly and his group of Newsies who stand up to Pulitzer and Hearst when Pulitzer raises the price of the Newsies’ papers. To stand up, the boys go on strike. This musical is full of mind-blowing choreography, memorable characters, incredible songs, and an incredible set.

“Seize the Day” is the title song from the show. The quote above comes from that song. There is lot of truth in those lyrics and can easily relate to life. Facing our fears can be quite scary, but the Newsies’ stood up for what they believed in and were trying to protect their rights. It took great courage for these boys to stand up to two of the most powerful publishers of the time. Most of the Newsies are orphans and poor and have to live from the salary they gained from selling the newspapers.

Courage is very important in life. When we face our fears, it takes great courage. Everyone is braver then they think they are. Courage allows us to stay true to ourself and not let others influence who we are. When we face our fears, we are able to show a different side of us. Courage is one of our biggest strengths and that is one of the biggest keys to our development. I have a growing love for Newsies and is already becoming meaningful and am starting to understand why I have a strong emotional connection to it. As of right now, the songs are very addicting especially the ones that the Newsies sing.

What are your thoughts about courage?