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.


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.



Showing God’s Compassion

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind

-Phillippians 2:1-2

How should we make sure humanity still exists? According to this passage, we should be similar to Christ even though the circumstances will be different. If we love like Christ did and let the Holy Spirit live throughout us, humanity will never die. Love is the biggest force of all and we should not let fear divide us. We need to be compassionate and kind towards others. We should live a life full of Christ because without him, life would be even more difficult to endure. Christ set an example of us and He showed us the importance of love and compassion. We are guided by the Holy Spirit, which dwells in us and it dwells in us because we are made in the image of God. We should never let the devil control our lives and break us further apart. Living in Christ is the best way to live and he doesn’t give up on us. Showing compassion, kindness, and love towards others will help fix this broken society.




Beyond the Barricade

Major Spoilers

By the end of Les Mis, all my favorite characters have died. The only survivors are Marius, Cosette, and the Thenardiers. I thought it would be interesting to see which of these surviving characters is my favorite. Between all four, Marius is my favorite and I know I am in the minority on this. Lots of people dislike him just because he is oblivious to Eponine’s unrequited feelings for him and that he doesn’t love her. Don’t forget you can’t choose who you fall in love with. This love triangle in fact provides an amazing texture to the musical.


The thing I love about Marius is the compassion and love that he is capable of. I even love how he matures after the trauma he faced on the barricade. We first meet him when time changes to 1832 and he discover that he has a passion for the uprising and is trying to rally supporters from the streets of Paris. During that same scene, Marius bumps into Cosette and is instantly in love with her. He struggles with balancing between these two passions and all he ever seems to sing about is Cosette. Knowing that Eponine is so streetwise, he ask her to find Cosette’s address and Eponine is reluctant because she loves him. This might seem like Marius is being a jerk to Eponine, but in reality he really isn’t.

If you actually think about it, Marius never treated Eponine poorly. Marius is probably the only person in her life that shows her any kindness. To Eponine, Marius means a lot because he is the only source of light in her dark and miserable life. Everyone thinks Marius and Eponine should be together, but I don’t believe they should. I don’t think Les Mis would be the same if Eponine ended up with Marius in the end.

In the musical, Eponine and Marius are shown as friends and he also is aware of how dark her life is, but is aware of her toughness and bravery. You might also think he is a jerk just because he is oblivious to Eponine’s feelings for him, but lets not forget that she never told him she loved him.

Then there is the scene at the beginning of act two. He once again asks Eponine to do an errand for him, which once again is dealing with Cosette. He asks Eponine to deliver a letter to Cosette and that might seem rude as well, but it really isn’t. He only was trying to protect her from the uprising. Eponine does not listen to Marius and returns to the barricades and gets caught in the crossfire and gets fatally wounded herself. This is when Marius shows her the most compassion. When Marius realizes that she is fatally wounded, he never leaves her side and gives her peace and comfort till her death. This does devastate Marius, but at least he does care about Eponine and that she does mean something to him.


Marius faces even more trauma at the barricades after all of his friends died and he almost got killed himself. Luckily Jean Valjean was there because Valjean rescued Marius. Marius heals from his wounds and he suffered from survivor’s guilt. Cosette helped him recover from his wounds. At the end of the show, Marius and Cosette have lost everything important to them except for each other. Cosette’s adopted father died and Marius’ friends died. I love Marius and Cosette together and they both have faced trauma in their life and they are still young. They ended up married and the reason why I love them together is due to the fact that Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light in the midst of this tragic tale.

Of the characters who live, who is your favorite Les Mis character?

Dilemmas of Jean Valjean

Possible Spoilers:

In Les Mis, the main character, Jean Valjean, has to face many difficult discussions and he always does the right thing. The biggest dilemma he has to face is during the “who am I” scene. He just learned through Javert that they have captured “Valjean” and he is about to face the court and possibly be sent to prison. Valjean does not know what to do because he knows that someone falsely accused of being him could go to jail even though the man is innocent. He is thinking “do I save this man or do I not to help save my factory workers”. If he saves the man through showing everyone he is the real Valjean, then his position as owner of the factory and mayor of the town would be at risk. But if he doesn’t reveal himself, he will have the sense of freedom he wants.

Valjean finally decided what to do. He actually faced a difficult decision, but in the end he did the right thing. He actually decided to go to court and reveal that he is in fact the “real” Valjean”. He just could not see an innocent man go to Jail and Valjean knows through experience that being in prison is one of the worst things ever because you are faced to lots of hard labor. He also knows that being a prisoner can harden you and make you someone you are not. He actually showed empathy for the innocent man, but this act made Javert closer on recapturing Valjean, which he was obsessed through since Valjean broke parole.

Despite turning himself into the police, Valjean continued to fulfill his promise to the dying Fantine. After this act, he went back to the hospital to comfort Fantine during her final moments. During those moments, he promised Fantine that he will raise Cosette as his own. But due to the incident in the courtroom, Javert arrived at the hospital ready to arrest Valjean. They went through a long confrontation and Valjean was able to escape and rescue the broken Cosette from the abusive Thenardiers’.

There are other dilemmas that Valjean face, but the one in the courtroom was the hardest one to face. Another one was when Valjean became aware that Marius, Cosette’s lover, is at the barricades and has a possibility that he will die. He does not want to lose Cosette forever, but he doesn’t want Marius to die either. But ultimately he decides to go to the barricades and save Marius from possible death. Valjean loves so Cosette so much that he is willing to sacrifice his happiness to give Cosette best possible life.

Valjean is a very complex character with this incredible journey. He goes on a strong spiritual journey to redemption. This journey starts out with Valjean as a harsh, angry, and hateful man. Valjean  gets redeemed very early on by the bishop, who saved his soul for God. The bishop was the only one who would show him compassion, forgiveness, and hospitality when he was released from prison . The bishop gave him a room and something to eat, but out of desperation, Valjean woke up in the middle of the night and stole the bishop’s silver. But the bishop was able to forgive Valjean and gave him two candlesticks, which became an important reminder to Valjean. They reminded him of the kindness the bishop gave him and helps him became a saint-like man. He shows compassion towards the poor and even to Fantine and Cosette. He saved both of them from a life of poverty. He saved Fantine by intervening and insisted that she is not to be arrested but instead sent to a hospital. Because Valjean learned that she had a child, Valjean promised to Fantine that he will raise Cosette as his own. He was shocked to discover that Cosette was very broken and never felt loved. Valjean and Cosette have an interesting relationship because they both were broken before they found each other. Eventually by the end of the musical, Valjean become into almost like a saint-like man.



Path of Kindness

One simple act of kindness can go a long way. What it truly means to be a Christian is to show love, compassion, and kindness. Doing those acts will help fix this broken society. Have some people forgotten about everything God has done for us? Why has the devil gotten too much in control of other people’s lives? God shows unconditional love towards everyone even the ones where the devil has constantly been in control.

That is part of human nature and what it means to stay faithful to God. Never let the devil control your life and don’t let the fears of life destroy you. It takes great courage to let go of your fears and love and live more. Love is greater then fear, which means God is more powerful then the devil. The devil wants you to hate, destroy, and fear and that is not what it truly means to truly be human. The devil wants you to not follow the path you were meant to take. The devil has gone a bit too far and that is why so many tragedies keep on happening. We respond to them through hatred and anger , but those who are good respond to them through love and come together and try to help people heal from those dark times.

My strong spirituality allows me to not let the devil take control of my life. It takes great courage to face your fears and yes there will be times that will make you be fearful. But once again don’t let the fear stop you from following the path you were meant to be on. If more people stayed faithful to God and kept Him a part of their life, then the world will be filled with less hate, fear, and anger and instead be filled with more compassion, love, and kindness.

I know most people are good, but there are times when news makes you feel the complete opposite. That is due to the fact that the news hardly shows good news and that makes some people forget about the true value of humanity. You can see the good all around you everyday by everyday interactions. Why should we completely judge society based off of the news? Humanity is still mostly good despite all of the hate, anger, injustice, violence, and tragedies. But never forget that God has called you to do good and that you never should listen to the devil.

Don’t forget we all are connected through the Holy Spirit. All of us were made in God’s image. Everyone is connected through the love of God. Continue to trust God no matter how broken society is. Yes, society is way out of control, but never let God leave your life. If one person shows kindness to someone, that could help break the endless cycle of violence. The more compassion we show, the more fixed the society will become. Continue to help those in need and see everyone as human. We are all human and some of us are not objects. We may all be different, but we are exactly the same.


Togetherness in Christ

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them

-1 John 4:16

Love is the greatest gift God has given us. Together we are one in Christ, our savior. God represents unconditional love. His love for us is something that we don’t deserve, but we accept it with gratitude. It is human nature to show compassion and love and kindness. If we all learn to love others, then all humans become one in the Lord. Trust in the Lord and He will reward you. God will always be there for us because of the incredible amount of love He shows. Find ways to develop an intimate relationship with God. All God wants is for us to love Him.

How can you make your relationship with God stronger? Yes, it is always told that the best way to develop a relationship with God is to read the Bible because it is God’s word. You can develop a strong relationship with God in other ways outside of the Bible.You can see God through His creation. Spend time in nature and just all of it sink in and reflect and let it allow you to find peace and comfort. Another place is through worship and song. When I attend my school’s student-led worship service, I always feel a bond with God especially during the songs. I always let the words seep inside of me and I always feel the heart and soul of them and let them touch me at the Holy Spirit. Even praying is a wonderful way to connect to God. Even at the Gathering, the songs represent a source of prayer. Another thing the songs at the Gathering do is allow me to pray in a way that works for me. You can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit through everyone, which helps make prayer together.


The Bishop Analysis

Possible Spoilers:

The Bishop in Les Mis plays a huge part in the journey of Jean Valjean. Without him, this musical would not be what it is today. When Valjean was released from prison, the Bishop was the only one who showed Valjean any kindness. He welcomed Valjean into his house and provided him with food and a bed. But despite the Bishop’s kindness, Valjean woke up in the middle of the night and stole the Bishop’s silver. Valjean was caught by the police and was sent back to the police. The Bishop covered up for Valjean and told the police that he gave Valjean the silver. Valjean was surprised by that the Bishop lied.

The Bishop was able to forgive Valjean. He was able to teach Valjean the ways of the Lord. The Bishop showed Valjean compassion.  The Bishop told Valjean to use the silver to become an honest man. On top of the silver, the Bishop gave Valjean two candlesticks. These candlesticks would serve as a representation of the Bishop. It would allow Valjean to live by the words of the Bishop. Right after the Bishops’ act of kindness, Valjean realized that he was capable of changing despite how society was treating him. He realized he would not get very far in life if he kept on acting like a man full of hate. Without the Bishop, Valjean would never have been able to change.

In fact, the whole Bishop scene is the first time that spirituality enters the musical. This show may be a tragedy, but it does have an inspirational side to it. Because the Bishop scene enters early on, it gives us a hint that there is going to be spirituality for the show. These scene talks about compassion, forgiveness, and redemption. Some of the show’s central themes are shown throughout this scene. So never think the Bishop has no importance to the storyline.