Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

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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

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How to Study the Bible: The Linear Method

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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

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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

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Favorite Movies of 2017

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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

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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)

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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)

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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

 

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

I don’t talk about my personal life on here all that much, but today I want to share something that happened this past week and the big lessons that I’m learning from it.

I’m in the middle of the college application process, and most of you probably don’t know that my dream school is Princeton. This is a dream that developed relatively recently as I researched and visited, and let me tell you – I want to go there so badly. 

So in October, I polished up my application and hit submit. I was told I would find out in mid-December.

Well, the decision came out this week. I was deferred.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with college-speak, that means they aren’t deciding yet, that since I applied with the early round, they’re waiting to decide with the next round in the spring. Basically, I still have no idea what’s going to happen, and I have to wait three more months to find out.

Was I disappointed? Yes, of course. Obviously I had hoped that I would get in and my future would be settled.

But that afternoon, I heard God saying to me – You don’t trust me yet. So I’m going to make you wait a little longer. 

And that brought such a strong sense of peace.

God is giving me another, longer waiting season so that I will learn to lean on Him, to let go of things I can’t control, to trust in His plan. He is making me wait, so that I can learn that it’s all going to be okay, so that I can let go of my own plans for my future, open my fists and give it all to Him, and say, with total honesty – Lord, I trust your will over my own.

He started to teach me this, in a small way, at Nutcracker last weekend (and the timing of this is amazing). I had some fast costume changes, and a few times during the shows I didn’t make it and had to enter late for a dance. The first time this happened, I was so stressed out, but as the weekend went on I felt something shift – and I had peace.

During the final show, I was late once and almost late a second time. And I was okay with it. I knew that in the scheme of things it didn’t matter, that I couldn’t control it. I was at peace, going with the flow and trusting God’s purposes.

I’m normally a huge perfectionist, so this was a major shift in perspective. It could only have been God. And I think He was preparing me, teaching me to trust on a small scale so that when it came to the big stuff, I would be ready.

And so, on Wednesday, when I opened my decision and read “The admissions committee has deferred a decision on your application until the spring”, I could be okay with it.

Waiting is hard. But it is in waiting that we have to cast ourselves onto God the most. It is in waiting that we must rely on Him, because we have nothing else to lean on. It is in waiting that the Christian life becomes most different from the worldly life, in waiting that our faith is tested, in waiting that our faith becomes solid and unshakeable.

I don’t trust God enough yet – I know that. And I know God is calling me to this waiting season for a purpose, to teach me to trust, to strengthen my faith. So in the next few months, I’m going to have to learn. I’m going to have to learn to live my life the best I can, not worrying about what will happen in April. I’m going to have to learn to give my stresses and my worries to my God constantly.

And most of all, I’m going to have to learn to hold my plans for my future with open hands. Because the plans He has for me? They are good.

Better than anything I could ever dream of.

Whether they include Princeton or not.

love, grace

From the Archives: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown

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This weekend, I’ll be very busy Nutcracker-ing. (Is that a verb? It is now.) I’ll return next week with a regularly scheduled post, but for now enjoy this holiday post I originally published in 2015. 

Christmas is almost upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’re getting very excited about it!

But even as we hype ourselves up for the wonderful morning, we also expect the letdown when everything is over. You know the feeling: the presents are opened, there isn’t anything left to do, and you start feeling disappointed, sad, or frustrated that it’s all over.

How can we avoid this holiday letdown and spend more time focusing on the true joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Here are four things you can do to help prevent and offset those feelings of disappointment.

1. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations.

We are all prone to building up and anticipating Christmas much more than we actually should be. We hype up the gift part of it so much and expect everything to be perfect and wonderful for the entire day.

This is dangerous; don’t allow yourself to imagine Christmas being perfect. The world is still fallen on Christmas, the presents don’t last forever, and things will not be magically perfect on the twenty-fifth of December. Don’t imagine it that way.

2. Make God the center from the start of the day. 

If you wake up before your siblings or have to wait for your parents to get ready in the morning, spend that time before you open gifts reading the Christmas story in your Bible and praying that God would give you the right heart during the day’s festivities.

This will help remind you of the purpose of the day before the gift-unwrapping starts. And even if you don’t have time to read your Bible beforehand, you can still say a quick prayer to yourself to help center your mind on God.

3. Focus on the right things while opening gifts. 

While you are opening gifts, take your time. Don’t rush through it. Focus on enjoying the delight of others when they receive the things you picked out for them. Focus on appreciating each gift that you open. Take it slowly and keep yourself in a generous and thankful mindset.

4. When the presents are gone, spend time in the Word. 

The letdown usually hits in the time between the end of gift-opening and the next order of business for the day. You are just sitting around staring at the piles of gifts that have all been opened, waiting for whatever happens next.

Avoid this by immediately spending some time reading your Bible or a devotional and praying after all of the gifts have been opened. Thank God for the blessings He has given you and refocus yourself on the greatest Gift of all: Christ Himself.

Will you try these strategies? Have you experienced letdown in the past? How else have you dealt with it? 

love, grace

Favorites: Fall 2017

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Fall is my favorite season. It’s so beautiful outside, I love the crisp, but not freezing, weather, and I get to wear scarves and sweaters and boots (finally). Here are a few other favorites from this fall season (September through November):

The Nashville Statement (Desiring God): Every Christian should read this manifesto of Biblical sexuality in an age when all of these points are up for discussion and debate.

Found this video challenging and thought-provoking:

 

Image result for a mango-shaped space A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – this book made me cry my eyes out late at night. Be warned. Recommended for ages 10+.

And then if you need cheering up, a few favorite Blimey Cow/Jordan Taylor videos:

 

four tips for breaking the strong female character trope - a guest post by Christine Smith [header image]100% agree with this article – must read if you are a fiction writer!

Image result for elantris Elantris by Brandon Sanderson – for an example of how to do the aforementioned “strong female character” correctly (and just about everything else in fiction) – my Goodreads review – recommended for ages 14+

Loving This World As It Really Is (Well Said) – an absolutely beautiful discussion of how we as Christians see the world

Formulaic for a Reason: The Existential Appeal of Hallmark Movies (The Gospel Coalition) – loved this take!

And speaking of romance, this happened to one of my favorite YouTubers this fall:

 

Finally, I don’t really like this actual song very much, but this cover of it features a whole bunch of different genres and is so creative and amazing!

 

What are some of your favorite things from this fall? Do you agree with any of mine? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Quotable Quotes Volume 1 (Thanksgiving Edition)

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I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here are some of my favorite quotes about gratitude to encourage you to keep counting your blessings all year long.

“So then as long as thanks was possible, then joy was always possible. The holy grail of joy was not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here, in the messy, piercing ache of now.”

-Ann Voskamp

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

-G.K. Chesterton

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

-Charles Dickens

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”

-A.W. Tozer

“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord.”

-Billy Graham

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

-A.A. Milne

 

Which of these quotes is your favorite? Do you have other favorite quotes about gratitude? How do you cultivate a thankful heart all year? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

The Night Circus: Subtle Magic and Unseen Drama

This was supposed to be last week’s post. I was gone all week and just noticed that somehow it ended up posted as a separate page for some reason. Here it is in normal post form…whoops! 

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My Rating: 4.5 stars

 

Plot Summary

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I loved this book. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever read, in characters, plot, and writing style, and it definitely pulled me out of the slight reading slump I had been in for a little while! I couldn’t put it down.

First of all, the premise is incredibly creative and unique, and the plot spun out in an unpredictably lovely way. I have to say – this is not a fast-paced book, and I can understand that therefore it may not be some peoples’ taste. But I love character-driven, beautifully written stories that focus on thought and emotion (inner action, rather than outer action, if you will), and this book was definitely that. So I loved it, even though some people don’t.

I loved the cast of characters in this book too! Each of them were interesting and I cared about them all. Celia and Marco, of course, and Bailey and the twins (also can I just say that naming him Bailey is a stroke of genius…cough cough circuses), Chandresh, Mr. Barris, Tsukiko…everyone is different and they all felt so real and three-dimensional.

The setting, too, is almost a character in itself. The circus. It is a place that feels slightly creepy, but not in an obvious way. It is a place that is ever growing and developing, and it is a place that is simmering with unseen magic and a drama that the people flowing through the gates have no awareness of. The descriptions are phenomenal, even though the circus really seems like a setting that we can’t properly imagine, that perhaps even the author can’t properly imagine. But she still manages to help us picture some semblance of it, whatever our limited minds can.

There were so many intertwined plot threads and characters and perspectives that were put together so well…it’s the type of book that I’ll probably have to reread at least one more time, because I’m sure there are things I didn’t catch the first time.

My only real complaint is that it didn’t have a lot of thematic depth; I’m not even sure I can identify a theme. But the writing is so beautiful and the story is told so well that it really doesn’t matter all that much. The writing style is absolutely captivating as it twists and turns, making the already-unique plot even more incredible. If anything, perhaps, the theme of the book is beauty itself. And the writing captures that.

Really, I can’t even describe it in a way to do it justice. The Night Circus is truly unique, something that you can’t imagine reading until you actually read it. The way the writing, the setting, the characters, and the jumps in perspective all come together to tell a story is fantastic. It’s creepy, but in a subtle, sinister way rather than in-your-face. It is fantasy at its finest.

 

Content Info: one short, nonexplicit love scene between the main characters in addition to several other kisses; one use of a strong curse word (which I whited out in my book); some of the magical scenes/plot points might disturb younger readers, and there are a few violent deaths (not explicitly described).

Overall recommended for ages 16 and up.

What do you think? Have you read The Night Circus? If so, did you like it? If not, will you add it to your reading list? What’s the most unique book you’ve ever read? Share in the comments below!

love, grace

Checking In: College Apps, Writing Stuff, and Just General Updateyness

abandoned, forest, industry

Hi everyone!

I had five extra minutes so I thought I would just pop in and share a little bit about what’s going in my life and what’s next for this blog.

First of all –

I miss blogging. I miss my regular schedule, my constant flow of ideas, and my interactions with all of you. Blogging has become something that I can’t really imagine my life without, and this unplanned (and supposedly still unofficial even though I haven’t posted in a month) hiatus has just confirmed that. So I promise I will be back, because I still think about this little blog quite often!

So why am I not coming back yet?

Well, first of all, college applications are happening. November 1 is rapidly approaching and I’m trying to get all of that madness done.

Also, Nutcracker is happening. I go to rehearsals three times a week and on those days I basically don’t have time for anything else. I have eight parts. It’s a lot, but I love it.

Also, my novella for the Rooglewood Press contest is trying to happen happening. I’m struggling to make it a priority, but I’ve come far enough and I think it has enough potential that I desperately want to meet that December 31 deadline.

And of course I also have school and church and laundry and studying and all of that. But those things are always around. The three things I’ve mentioned above will all go away after December. I’ll still be dancing, but not quite as intensively, and the other two will be over and done. (And I will be one relieved human.) So my plan right now, unless the mood to post strikes me sooner, is to return to blogging in January. 

I wish I didn’t have to wait until then, but I want to be able to truly put effort into this blog. I just wanted to update you all on what’s going on, after my super-vague hiatus post in September and my one random book review (which was a free copy I agreed to review, so I figured I might as well post it here).

I hope you are all doing well! I miss you lots!

love, grace