Superheroes, Science, and Sanderson (Reading Recap Jan-Feb 2018)

I’m starting something new today: here on the blog, every two or three months I’m going to share a collection of the books I read and highlight what I thought of a few of them. Here’s my collection from January and February.

*the inspiration for this post’s format came from the lovely Tracey at Adventure Awaits, this post in particular!

12 books (9 fiction, 2 nonfiction, 1 play)



Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – 2.5 stars

unsatisfying ending//looks at an important problem but offers no solution//rushed romance//new age elements//genius in some ways but overall disappointingly forgettable

heart of darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – 2.5 stars

read for AP Literature class//beautiful writing and fun to analyze//super weird though



The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall 

approximately the fourth time I’ve read this//made me almost cry//never gets old

a tale of two cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens 

amazing in a different way the second time//wow, the foreshadowing//must read

Favorite Reads


Renegades by Marissa Meyer – 4 stars 

totally met my expectations//incredibly unique settings//memorable characters//read entire second half in one day//thought it was a standalone, need the sequel now


The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – 4 stars 

read for AP Literature//read out loud in class which is highly recommended//hilarious Victorian comedy//so much quotableness

counted worthy

Counted Worthy by Leah E. Good – 4 stars 

didn’t feel self-published//Christianity not sentimental or cheesy//inspiring//I need to memorize more Bible verses//God is bigger than government

final empire

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – 4 stars 

audiobook//narrator makes great voices//how did it take me so long to read this??


What were your favorite reads of the last few months? Which of these books would you like me to review? Have you read any of them? And what do you think of this post format? Share in the comments! 

love, grace


How to Study the Bible: The Verse Brainstorming Method


Today I want to share another method for digging into Bible verses that I discovered a while ago. I used it for a good chunk of time recently before switching to another method, and I’m sure I’ll go back to it again (I change my routines up often).

I first got the idea for this method when reading Tim Keller’s book Hidden Christmas. In the book, he tells the story of a conference he went to where the speaker instructed them to write down at least thirty things they could learn from Mark 1:17, listing things for a whole thirty minutes even if it seemed there was nothing else to possibly write. It sounded intriguing, and so I decided to try it.

And every single time I picked a verse and spent long enough writing things down, I made some kind of breakthrough discovery in my understanding of the verse, something I would never have gotten out of a ten-minute study. It made me realize that the majority of the time, I don’t go nearly deep enough in my Bible studies. So today I want to share this method with you.

The Method

I’m not going to do an example, because this is a very straightforward method that would be hard to demonstrate thoroughly in a blog post. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a verse.
  2. Choose an amount of time (thirty minutes recommended) to write things down. Choose this before you start so you won’t be tempted to stop whenever you think you’ve run out of things to write!
  3. Write down everything you learn from the verse. Continue writing things down until your time is up (I promise there’s always more to say).

That’s all! Really simple, but the extended amount of time forces you to pay a lot more attention and care to what you’re reading, to dig for definitions of specific words, historical context, Biblical context, application points, etc. Think of it as a brainstorming session, where you jot down absolutely everything that comes to mind. Depending on your handwriting and speed, you should be able to fill 2-3 pages of a notebook easily.

You’ll probably be surprised at the really good insights that start to show up 15-20 minutes into the session (so don’t give up early!).

When to Use It

If you’re in a dry season in your Christian walk, or you’re starting to feel like you’re not getting anything out of your devotions, this is a great method to help you reignite the spark and make some new discoveries about what you’re reading. It’s especially great to use for studying those familiar or cliche verses that we’ve all seen so often we’ve forgotten what they really mean.

When Not to Use It

If you don’t have the time to commit at least twenty minutes (and thirty is better…or even more) then this method probably isn’t the right choice. I would recommend the  SOAP method I shared last week to study a verse in a rush.

But if you have the time (and even if you have to make the time) this is an amazing method to try! It takes some diligence and patience, but it’s totally worth it for the insights you’ll gain.

What do you think? Have you ever tried this, or will you try it now? How else do you like to study verses? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Book Review: Counted Worthy

Image result for counted worthy

Counted Worthy by Leah E. Good

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Age Suggestion: 12+

About the Book

Heather Stone lives in fear of repeating the past, yet she continues doing the one thing that could trigger another disaster. When the police trace an illegal Bible to her house, Heather’s world begins to crumble.

Her father’s life hangs in the balance. No one with the power to help knows or cares. If she tries to save him, she could lead her friends to their deaths. If she does nothing, her father’s fate is certain. Can she evade a hostile police force and win public sympathy before it’s too late? (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This book is scary to read; it’s dystopian, yet it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch from where our society is right now. A government intent on hunting down Christians, Bible-smuggling, and a society built on fear and lies are what make up the backdrop of this book, and it is a terrifying backdrop.

But that is what makes the book even more inspiring. Because it follows a girl who, even in the midst of all of this fear, is willing to stand up for what is right and do what it takes to get her father out of jail, and all of the people who stand with her.

The plot is exciting and fast-paced. It doesn’t offer trite answers or simple solutions, but shows the struggle of being a Christian in a hostile world honestly and clearly, with a good dose of action and banter mixed in which makes it a quick, engaging read. Heather’s character development is phenomenal. I can’t say too much about it without giving away the ending, but it ties so beautifully into the theme and is so well-done. And she’s surrounded by a cast of supporting characters who all have unique situations, strengths, and personalities. Especially Bryce. I love the simple care and chastity of their relationship, although I reallly hope it develops into a romantic one in the future 😉

The world-building is good, although the plot is very limited to one area, so I didn’t get much of a sense of the surrounding world. I do feel like that might have been purposeful, and I’m hoping to get more details about the history and the government in all of that in future books.

The writing really surprised me with how good it was! I went in knowing that this was a self-published book, and as such, expecting the writing to be the weak link, as I’ve found is the case so often with self-published books. But not this one! The writing is short and to-the-point, but somehow still manages to pack in tons of detail. Overall, in both writing and design, Counted Worthy didn’t feel self-published, and I could tell that Good knows her stuff.

And ultimately, the best thing about this book is the Christian themes. This might be the first Christian fiction book I’ve ever read that portrayed Christianity with high stakes, deep emotion, and no cheesiness. The Bible-quoting felt seamless and powerful, the faith wasn’t instant or easy. This book showed how hard Christianity can be, and how worth it. It showed how faith makes a person brave even when they’re scared. And it was powerful. Christianity in fiction is very hard to get right, and this book gets it right for sure. 

(Content: No language. Bryce and Heather have a boyfriend-girlfriend act they use to attract less attention, but there’s very little focus on it and their relationship is pretty much totally platonic. Some slightly intense scenes because of the genre and subject matter.)

Overall, I think every Christian should read this book, and I absolutely cannot wait for a sequel to come out!

Have you read Counted Worthy? Did you like it? How do you feel about Christianity in fiction, and what other books have you read that do it well? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Read more:

Book Review: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

8 Books Every Christian Teen Should Read

Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories)

How to Study the Bible: The SOAP Method


In the last two posts in this series, I shared two methods for studying long passages of Scripture to get an overview of their meaning in context. If you missed those, check them out here and here. Today I want to move on, and focus on the first of two methods for breaking down individual verses.

I want to note that there is a place for both things in the Christian life, and one is not better than another. Studying larger passages helps us get a sense of the context and scope of what we’re reading about, to see the full story and the broader sweep of God’s plan. But there’s also a lot to learn from taking a microscope to a particular verse, getting down into the details, and this method, one that I’ve seen on Pinterest many times (I didn’t make it up!), is a simple one that will help you do just that.

The Method

  1. S: Scripture. Choose a verse and copy it down word-for-word.
  2. O: Observation. Write a few sentences about the meaning of the verse.
  3. A: Application. Write a few sentences about how the verse’s meaning applies to your life.
  4. P: Prayer. Write out a quick prayer relating to the verse.

For an example, let’s use 1 John 2:17.

S: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 

O: Everything that people chase after outside of God’s will is temporary and ultimately meaningless. This world will go by like a flash, and trying to find meaning only in the things of the world is a fruitless pursuit. We find purpose and meaning in our lives by knowing God’s will and living it out. He has provided a way to eternal life, that allows us to bypass the temporary nature of the world.

A: There’s no reason to wish for things that I can’t or don’t have. I have God, and that’s enough – being able to live “freely”, do things the Bible forbids, or seek entirely after worldly things would never make me as happy as I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it would.

P: Lord, help me to remember this verse when everything around me is glittering temptingly. Help me to remember that pursuing Your best for my life is the only way to happiness, and to see worldly things as temporary and fading.

When to Use It

This method is great when you don’t have a lot of time for Bible study. It doesn’t require you to do a lot of reading – you can read 3 or 4 verses and then choose one to focus on. It’s a quick and simple way to cover the important points.

When Not to Use It

Honestly, anytime you want to study a verse, this a great method to come back to. You can adjust it to be as quick or as deep as you want: the Observation section could take two minutes or it could take twenty. You could write out a two-sentence prayer or a two-page prayer. There really isn’t a time that this method can’t be adapted to fit your needs.

Next week, I’ll share another method that I started using recently to study verses that’s a little more time-consuming and naturally goes a lot deeper.

What do you think? Have you tried this method? Do you like it? What are your favorite ways to study individual Bible verses? Leave a comment and let me know! 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Reasons to Read the Bible

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

Favorites Roundup: December/January ’17-’18

winterfavs edited

First of all, The Rebelution went through a recent leadership transition. Read Jaquelle’s goodbye and Christopher’s hello to catch up.

I got some really great ideas from this video!

 This fantastic podcast episode on modesty was really helpful and encouraging to me.

If you’re looking for some exquisite Christian humor, watch this…

why-i-stopped-doing-my-best.jpg I could relate to this so much!

This is incredible:

Two great reads from Ann Voskamp:

This is What Finding Some Real Peace REALLY Means 

The Most Important Skill That Your 2018 Really Needs

Image result for the greatest showman

(If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re missing out.)

And finally, this most beautiful song:


What are some of your favorite things from this winter? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

How to Study the Bible: The In ‘n’ Out Method


Last week, I began an exploration of various ways to study the Bible. The first was the linear method, a very straightforward and adaptable structure that you can shift to your time constraints and study needs.

But some of you might want a method that has a bit more structure and guidance, so today I’m sharing what I’ve dubbed the In ‘n’ Out method. This is a way of studying a passage that allows you to see both the context of when it was written and how it applies to you today.

(I have no idea where I first heard of this, or if I made it up, or mashed a bunch of methods together. If you know the source, please let me know!)

The Method

  1. Choose a set of verses, either a chapter or a section of a chapter.
  2. To summarize the passage, write out the answers to the basic questions, in terms of the passage’s literal context: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These should be super short; a couple of words or a sentence is all you need.
  3. Next, zoom out, and think about what it teaches for Christians in general.
  4. Then, zoom back in, thinking about how it applies to your particular Christian life.

Let’s use Hebrews 11:13-16 as an example.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

First of all, answer the basic summary questions. You may have to look at the verses surrounding your chosen passage; I’m working from the first twelve verses of Hebrews 11 as well as the selected passage.

  • Who? The saints of the Old Testament.
  • What? Their faith and hope for heaven.
  • When? The time before Christ.
  • Where? All over the earth.
  • Why? Because God promised them a Messiah and eternal life.
  • How? By trusting those promises, even though they hadn’t seen them.

Then, take that very specific-to-the-context summary, and extend it into a few sentences about what this means for the entire church.

The essence of the Christian life is trusting God and believing in His promises, even if it is not clear how or when they will be fulfilled. In this age, we know that the promise of Christ has been fulfilled, but we are still awaiting heaven; we know that we are sojourners in the world, just passing through, and ought to always have that in mind.

Finally, take the general summary, and make it specific again with how it pertains to you. Even for the same passage, this could look very different from person to person, depending on your circumstances. But here’s an example:

I shouldn’t cling too closely to worldly things. Ultimately, I have a hope that is far greater than anything the world can give me, and so I need to hold my possessions and successes with a loose grip, willing to cast everything on God and go wherever he asks me to.

When to Use It

This works well when you want to study a passage thoroughly, yet quickly. It ensures that you aren’t focusing too much on application with no textual understanding, or textual knowledge with no application, both of which are easy to fall into.

When Not to Use It

Like the Linear Study method, this is designed to get a sweeping overview of a long passage, and not to go in-depth on the details. So like I said before, if you really want to go deep, this may not be what you’re looking for.

It’s also possible that you might have to research some historical context to get the answers to those summary questions, and if you don’t have the time or patience for that, this might not be for you. But I would encourage you to try it before giving up! Don’t underestimate the value of learning Biblical history. Plus, if you have a study Bible, most likely all of the information you need will be easily accessible in those notes.

In general, this is a very useful method if you want to study a large chunk of Scripture and need something more guided or more thorough than last week’s.

Next week, I’ll share a way to focus more deeply on particular verses, so look out for that!

Do you happen to know the source of this method, or did I actually make it up? Have you tried it, or will you try it? Share in the comments!

love, grace

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Image result for murder on the orient express

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) 

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

About the Movie

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on the book by Agatha Christie

PG-13, 1 hour 54 minutes

When a murder occurs on the train he’s traveling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case. (from IMDb)

My Thoughts

First of all, let’s talk about what an amazing cast this movie has. The cast list features all-star after all-star, and every single character is cast perfectly.

Obviously Branagh himself, as Poirot, is amazing. I also especially liked Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars fame) as Mary Debenham; it’s a very different character from Rey, but she does it extremely well. And let’s not forget Sergei Polunin, who plays ballet dancer Count Andrenyi and looks the part spectacularly, since he happens to be an actual ballet dancer!

I do wish some of the characters and their relationships had been developed a bit more, but that’s hard to do in a movie with so many characters.

Full disclosure: I hadn’t read the book in a very long time, so I went into the movie not comparing it at all. I heard from some people that it wasn’t true to the book and they were disappointed by that, but since I wasn’t comparing it, that didn’t hinder my enjoyment.

I found the plot to be well-paced and engaging. However much of it came from Christie, she was a master of the detective novel, and the twists and turns and red herrings and connections and surprises were great. I had also forgotten nearly everything (which I highly recommend *smile*) so the ending was a surprise all over again, just like the first time I read the book! Isn’t that the best feeling?

In addition to the great plot and characters, it is stunningly filmed, a visual feast. The costuming and design of the train’s interior are great, and the landscape scenes are absolutely gorgeous. The music, too, is amazing. It was no surprise when I found out it was by Patrick Doyle – all of his music is incredible (Thor, Cinderella, Hamlet…).

While there isn’t a lot of deep theme, that doesn’t really matter for this genre, and I wasn’t expecting it. But even without thematic depth, the movie is very emotionally intense, especially at the end. Not to mention it’s just a very intense movie in general. The murder is fairly graphic, while in a tasteful way, and the subject matter of the entire movie makes it have a dark feel all the way through; so keep that in mind if you’re planning on watching it.

(In terms of other content, there is one character who has had several husbands and there are several innuendos/things implied about her, plus a very sensual moment between her and one of the men on the train – no touching, but their conversation and body language is pretty PG-13. There are some other innuendos and a little mild language throughout, and one character who drinks a lot.)

Overall, this movie is fantastic, both in the scripting/acting and in the cinematography/music aspects. Visually stunning, it drew me in and got me very invested in the murder and the characters. If you’ve read the book recently, or often, you might have to mentally separate the two in order to really enjoy it. But if you can do that, and if you can handle the intensity of the subject matter, this is a movie well worth seeing!

Have you seen Murder on the Orient Express? How did you like it? Are you a book purist, or were you, like me, able to separate the two? Any other Patrick Doyle fans out there?? Leave a comment and let me know! 

love, grace

Read more:

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

La La Land: Old-School Movie Magic

Top 7 Movies for Snow Days

How to Study the Bible: The Linear Method


A very long time ago, I posted 4 Reasons to Read the Bible. It was supposed to be the beginning of a Bible reading series, which got temporarily derailed when I had to go on an unplanned hiatus. But even though it’s been nearly four months since the first post, I don’t want to give up on it, so here…at last…is the next post in the “series”.

One of the biggest problems many people have with Bible reading is knowing how to do it. Are we just supposed to sit down and read? How do we get the most out of it?

The answer, usually, is studying in some way. Rather than just reading a passage and being done for the day, it’s good to dig deeper into a verse or a section.

Knowing how to do that can be a challenge, though. I’ve experimented with many different methods over the years, and for the next few months, I’m going to share some of those methods, explaining how they work and going through examples.  I hope that this can help you find a method that works for you, in whatever season you’re in.

Today: what I’m calling the Linear Study method. 

The Method

This is a pretty standard way to study a passage. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a set of verses, either a chapter or a section of a chapter.
  2. Work through your chosen section in order. Write out the main points, and make a note of the verses that contain those points, as well as any additional thoughts that come to mind.
  3. At the end, write a quick summary of the passage’s overall meaning, to tie everything together.

For an example, let’s use 1 Timothy 1:12-17:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

So first, work through it in order, writing out the main points. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Paul is thankful that by God’s mercy and grace, he was transformed from evil to abundant faith and love (12-14).
  2. Jesus came to save us, and the Christian life requires full acceptance of that truth (15).
  3. Paul is an example of the statement in verse 15: he was a terrible sinner, but in his salvation, he was an example to the world of how much Jesus loves us and wants to rescue us (16).
  4. These truths, of Paul’s salvation and of our salvation, are ultimately so that the world will praise and bring glory to God (17).

(As you can see, sometimes four or five verses will condense into one point, and other times each verse is so dense that it has to have a separate point. Also, notice that the points aren’t super in-depth; they note the main, central meaning of the passage, leaving out the smaller details.)

Then, taking those four points, I’ll write a summary of what the passage’s main theme is:

God, for his glory, offers free salvation through Jesus Christ. This can be received by anyone, no matter their past, as Paul is an example of. This truth is the central truth of the Christian life and we should seek to fully accept and trust in it.

When to Use It

While it’s good to study individual verses in detail, of course, it’s also important to spend time looking at bigger chunks to make sure you’re studying everything in context. This method is especially good for those longer passages since it helps you condense the meaning and connect all of the individual verses into one whole.

When Not to Use It

Like I said above, it is good to study individual verses in more detail, and with this method, there are always details that will get glossed over. So if you’re looking to go into deep detail with your Bible study, this might not be the method for you.

It is worth noting, though, that once you’re comfortable you can start adding more thoughts and notes within each main point, and go as in-depth as you would like. It just doesn’t lend itself to that as naturally as some of the other methods I’ll share.

Overall, this method is easy, straightforward, and ensures that you won’t miss any of the major ideas a passage holds. If you’re at a loss for where to start studying your Bible, this is a perfect method to use. It doesn’t take too much time, and works for any passage, anywhere in the Bible.

Next time, I’ll share another way to study passages that is slightly more specific and guided than this one, so if that’s what you’re looking for, stay tuned! 

In the meantime, let me know if you’ve tried this, and what methods you use to study a longer passage of Scripture! I’m always looking for more ideas. 

love, grace

2017 Year in Review

year in review

Somehow 2017 is over, and 2018 is upon us in a little more than twenty-four hours. It simultaneously feels like this year went on forever but also flew by. I finished my junior year of high school, started my senior year, switched back to my old dance studio and performed in the Nutcracker again, went to a dance program and an academic program away from home, wrote a novella for the Rooglewood Press contest…so much happened. And the last few months have been an absolute whirlwind. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, a little more peace in the coming months, now that a few of my most stressful projects are winding down.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting year for the blog (especially the last couple of months), and I want to thank all of you for sticking around and reading everything I have to say! I hope to invest so much more into this blog in 2018.

But before we get into that, here’s a quick recap of some things from 2017:

Most Popular Posts (by pageviews)

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 1: God’s Purpose for Romance

Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag

Why Growing Up is a Good Thing

The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering

Other Personal Favorite Posts

The Relationship Series (first one linked in list above):

God’s Purpose for Singleness

Avoiding Drama and Temptation

Developing Your Convictions on Dating 

4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness

And this one that seemed to mean a lot to quite a few people: After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day

Favorite Books of 2017

Image result for the broken way

Image result for vinegar girl

Image result for the great gatsby

Image result for elantris

Image result for heartless

Favorite Movies of 2017

Image result for les miserables

Image result for newsies the broadway musical

Image result for spiderman homecoming

Image result for murder on the orient express

Image result for becoming jane

Plans for 2018

I have lots of ideas for what I want to do on this blog in 2018…

First of all, I want to do lots more reviews of books, movies, podcasts, blogs, etc. There is so much media out there to sort through, and I consider that one of True and Pure’s most important purposes, to help you know what out there is good and God-honoring and worth your time.

I also have an idea to start a regular “from my journal” series, where I share things I’ve been learning in my devotional time. I’m still considering doing a series on learning to drive as well, and I’ll continue to do Monthly Favorites and the occasional Quotable Quotes.

In my own life, this coming year is going to be one of great change: I’ll be graduating high school, spending two weeks in Europe over the summer, turning 18, and then starting college. So you can probably expect posts related to those things to pop up here once in a while.

(And if you’d like to start seeing more about my life, please let me know! I purposely steer away from it, but I do want you all to feel like you know me, and I don’t want this blog to come across as impersonal.)

As of tomorrow, my novella will be entered into the contest (it’s fully done as of this afternoon! Eeeee!) and I’ll have the freedom to work on some different writing projects. One of the things I’m considering is writing a serial story to post on here, probably allegorical, and I might publish some poetry or something from time to time. I also plan to start submitting some articles to websites like The Rebelution and Kingdom Pen. This year is going to be a year of exploring with my writing, lots of small projects. My novella took a lot out of me and I’m not quite ready to attempt a major project again yet.

If you have any post suggestions or requests, please let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And now…how was your 2017?

Was it good? Hard? Some of both? What were the best parts? What did God teach you through the bad parts?

Did you publish any writing (blog posts, etc.) that you’re particularly proud of (share it!)? Looking back, what else did you accomplish?

What were your favorite books and movies? Did you discover new music, or a new author, or a new blogger that you now love?

And what are you looking forward to in 2018? What do you hope to accomplish? What are you excited for?

I want to hear all about it! Share in the comments below. Here’s to a wonderful New Year’s and a wonderful 2018!

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year 2017

book and movie of the year edited

About the Award

The True and Pure Book and Movie of the Year Award is an unofficial, created-by-me award. I recognize what I consider the best book I read and the best movie I saw in the previous year, along with a runner-up in each category.

Starting this year, I will make an effort to choose more modern books rather than classics; we can all agree that most classics are classics for a reason, and my goal is to help you find amazing books that you might not have heard about or might be unsure about. Plus this will help me narrow it down a little bit. But the award in general is not limited to media that was released this year. I choose out of everything I read and watched in the course of the year, not only things that are brand-new.

See previous awards here:

Book and Movie of the Year 2015

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

Book of the Year: The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp (2016)

Runner-Up: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (2016)

Image result for the broken wayImage result for vinegar girl

About the winner: 

New York Times best-selling author Ann Voskamp sits at the edge of her life and all of her own unspoken brokenness and asks: What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives — and one that The Broken Way – also a New York Times bestseller – rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.  (from Goodreads)

The Broken Way, if read and digested carefully, is a life-changing book. Voskamp’s writing style is painfully beautiful; her words are filled with hope and joy; the truths that she speaks of are truths that we all need to be reminded of again and again. It is a beautiful book that every Christian should read, no matter your situation, and store up in their hearts for a time when life may be a struggle.

Read my earlier review: The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering.

About the runner-up: 

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny?

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around? (from Goodreads)

Vinegar Girl is just so much fun. It’s a touching, sweet, funny romance novel that doesn’t feel like a romance novel at all, taking The Taming of the Shrew and perfectly transplanting it into modern life. This is one of those books that I will probably reread over and over, and recommend to everyone. It’s especially perfect if you’re looking for a light, enjoyable beach read that still has substance.

Read my Goodreads review: Vinegar Girl.

Movie of the Year: Les Miserables (2012)

Runner-Up: Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017)

Image result for les miserables movieImage result for disney's newsies the broadway musical

About the winner: 

Jean Valjean, known as Prisoner 24601, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in post-revolutionary France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion. (from IMDb)

Note that I have not read the book, so I won’t be able to compare quality in that regard; but I watched Les Miserables for the first time back in January and absolutely loved it. It is a serious, rather dark, sometimes hard-to-watch movie, but it has a beautiful, hopeful conclusion that is missing from so much of today’s media. The music is so powerful as well, and adds to the development of its soaring themes. (Warning: there is some content that you may want to research beforehand. Most of it is easily fast-forwardable. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this movie for those under 14.)

About the runner-up: 

Set in New York City at the turn of the century and based on a true story, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies to his side. (from IMDb)

This played in theaters one evening this year, and my sister and I went to see it with some friends. It was awesome. We love the musical, and it was so great to get to see the whole show with all the epic dancing! Best of all, I think it’s on Netflix now, so if you’re looking for a feel-good musical to brighten your winter, go check it out! I definitely need to watch it again soon.


What do you think? Have you read/watched my selections? If so, did you like them as much as I did? What are your favorite books and movies of 2017? I’d love to know! 

love, grace