Heartless: Wonderland As You’ve Never Seen It Before

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: Four And a Half Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

The Book

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Thoughts

I absolutely LOVED this book!! I know some people have mixed feelings on it, and maybe it’s not quite as good as the Lunar Chronicles (which were just…beyond five stars and into the galaxy), but I loved it nonetheless.

I’ve read some reviews where people were upset about how the whole plot is basically Cath trying to avoid marrying the king. I get why they might not like that, but here’s the thing: not every book has to feature female heroines a la Katniss Everdeen and Tris, who go out and do karate and fight the evil government and wear leather jackets and intimidate everyone. This is not an action novel – it’s essentially a romance novel. And I get that people might not have been expecting that after the Lunar Chronicles, but this book isn’t the Lunar Chronicles. It’s a different kind of story, and that’s okay.

One reason I think I didn’t mind the slower pace is because I do really enjoy character-driven stories. And the characters in this story were all very interesting, some very frustrating, and they were enough to keep me invested in the story even when there wasn’t a lot of action going on.

To the people who complained that Cath was whiny: I don’t think she was that whiny, honestly, compared to some female characters I’ve read. (Whiny characters are a huge pet peeve of mine, and she didn’t bother me, which is saying something.) She was genuinely in a very tricky situation, too. She’s being forced to marry someone who will never make her happy – just because it’s not life-threatening doesn’t mean it’s not conflict.

Who was my favorite character, you ask? Jest. Of course. He’s honestly one of my favorite love interests I’ve ever read, fun but serious, unique, charming, and…ugh. So good.

The rest of the cast was so interesting too. I loved Margaret and the Duke…that little subplot was really cute and added so much to the story. Hatta was intriguing as well, and the Raven’s quoting was so great!

Honestly, I think my favorite thing about the book is just the way everything came together at the end and created the Queen of Hearts that we are familiar with. It’s hard to explain without spoiling anything, but the way the details are woven together is SO satisfying.

Satisfying, but in a bit of a heartbroken way. Just be warned…it’s not a happy book, which you probably could have guessed from the subject. I finished reading it at lunch at school and thank goodness I was with friends who even vaguely understood what I was feeling…

*Content Warnings*

No language.

The romance, while pretty much clean, is definitely on the more mature side with quite a bit of kissing, which I think would be better for ages 13-14 or so and up (depending on what you’re comfortable with).

There are some pretty intense action scenes, especially near the end, that might disturb younger readers.

 

Overall, I loved this book! I think that, while different from the Lunar Chronicles, it’s another fabulous read by Marissa Meyer that will definitely make it to my list of favorites for the year. Highly recommended if you like Alice in Wonderland, fantasy, or romance!

What do you think? Have you read Heartless? If so, did you like it? If not, will you read it now? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Book Review: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Book Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

May 2017 Month in Review

May is always one of the hardest months of the year, at least for me. It’s full of testing (AP tests, SOLs, and the SAT…) and school is winding down, but not quite over yet. Motivating myself to do anything once it feels like summer is so difficult.

But I just keep plugging along, trying to get done what I need to get done and still have some fun along the way, giving myself grace when I’m not quite living up to my own standards. Because those standards aren’t everything, and God loves us no matter how unmotivated we are at the end of the school year.

Bloggings of the Month

old testament pt3what God’s law teaches us about worship

old testament pt4 social justice for the Christian

big ben, bridge, clock tower a special Fun Friday post: the Blue Sky Tag

old testament pt5.jpgpractical tips to get into the Old Testament (the conclusion to the Lessons from the Law series)

Truths of the Month (from my journal)

*there is always always always hope. the Bible promises a day when everything will be so completely right again. (Isaiah 61)

*all the things that happen to us are demonstrations of God’s love, meant to advance the goal of making us more like Christ. (Romans 8:28-30)

*the calling of the Christian is not to do and be good at everything, but to cultivate the specific gifts God has given to us and use them for His glory. (Romans 12)

*the world begs for unity, but the only way to true unity is Christ. the unity God gives us goes far beyond anything the world has. (Romans 15:5-6)

*as Christians, we are called to maturity in spiritual things, but it is okay to be seen as innocent in the world’s eyes. (Romans 16:17-20)

*without God’s love, Christianity would literally not exist. love is the catalyst for everything we believe, and it should be the most important thing in our lives, daily and consciously choosing to love those around us. (1 Corinthians 13)

Favorites of the Month

Image result for heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer was a very anticipated read for me, and it lived up to expectations! It may have ripped my heart out and stomped on it, but oh well…

Image result for arranged Arranged is a random movie that I had sitting around that I watched on a sick day this month. It’s such a sweet story of a Jewish girl and a Muslim girl who become friends, both of whom are having marriages arranged for them. Perfectly clean, with a cute happy ending. I loved it!

Even though I’m not really thinking seriously about dating and all of that yet, I absolutely loved this talk on singleness from Sam Alberry. First of all, he’s British, which is great. He is so entertaining to listen to, and the talk is full of practical wisdom and amazing insights! Highly recommended.

After Manchester, from Ann Voskamp. No words for how beautiful this is.

I found this video so helpful. Use discernment- Becca isn’t a theologian, and I don’t necessarily agree with her on everything, but a lot of what she has to say in here is really good.

Is the old testament still relevant today? And finally, since we literally just did a series on this, please read Is the Old Testament Still Relevant Today? Some really great points that I didn’t mention!

Upcoming

In June, I have a few standalone posts planned, including a book review and some ideas for making most of this summer. And then, once I get out of school in late June, I’ll have lots more coming, to be announced!

Speaking of summer, I’m trying to decide on a posting schedule for the summer. If you could give me your input, that would be great:

Anyway, I hope you had a great May and are having a great summer/June so far! I’ll be back next week with more summery stuff!

love, grace

How was your May? Did you read or watch anything good? Tell me in the comments below! 

 

April 2017 Month in Review

At this time every year, I’m reminded of how much I love spring (besides the allergies, of course.) My yard is full of azalea bushes, and once they all start blooming there’s an explosion of colors everywhere. Every time I step outside, I see pink and purple and yellow and white and green and it makes me smile.

I like fall for the same reason; when everything outside is so beautiful and colorful, it makes me think of God and thank him in wonder for His creation. He is a creative God. And since we are in the image of Him, our imaginations are in the image of His! Isn’t that cool? God is the ultimate creator, the ultimate artist, the ultimate designer, and we can be reminded of that every time we look at nature.

Bloggings of the Month

christian vs secular music2.jpg thoughts on how truth can be hidden in everything

old testament pt 1-2.jpg the intro to my new series on the Old Testament

old testament pt2 and the first installment: how the sacrificial system points to Christ

Image result for age of minority sharing my favoritest podcast ever with you

Truths of the Month

*the Israelites wanted a king so badly because they wanted to be like everyone else (1 Samuel 8:19-20)…this can be so dangerous

*religious rituals are no substitute for true obedience (1 Samuel 15:22)

*David is such an example of doing hard things as a teenager (killing a giant, anyone?)

*David immediately goes to God for refuge when he is in danger, not worrying or panicking but relying on the One who he knows will save him (1 Samuel 23)

*seasons come and go; grief will never last, and, in this life, neither will happiness; but that’s okay because we have eternal happiness to look forward to, and that’s not a season. it will last forever (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

*Christians are called to be the ones on the front lines, helping and serving, known for love above and beyond anything the world could ever have (John 13:34-35)

Favorites of the Month

PREORDER: Write The Word Journal // Cultivate Joy

I just discovered Lara Casey and her Write the Word journals. I have the yellow “Cultivate Joy” journal that I’ve been using in my morning devotions and I love it! It’s just so beautiful and a really good way to get into the Bible. Lara Casey’s blog is worth following too. She’s a Christian who posts about goal-setting and things like this, and her joy shines through!

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is one of my favorite books now. It’s so sweet, and manages to be a light and enjoyable read without feeling trashy or like “fluff”. I’m always looking for books like that!

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This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe is a book that every. single. teenager. should read. It’s so simple, so practical, and yet if you really take it to heart it’s life-changing. Read my review on Goodreads for more.

 

I think that’s it for me for April! In May I’ll be continuing with several more installments of the Old Testament series. See you next week!

love, grace

How was your April? Did you read or watch anything good? What has God taught you in your devotions lately? Do you love spring as much as I do? Share int he comments below! 

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

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Surprise! A post on a Friday. I had something I really wanted to share while it was still fresh in my mind. I think I’ll continue to do this; I plan my Saturday posts ahead, but sometimes I get ideas that just can’t wait. So you may get a surprise post every now and then.

There’s Christian music and Christian books and Christian movies.

There’s also secular music and secular books and secular movies.

So what do we listen to, read, and watch, and what do we avoid? Do we only consume explicitly Christian media, or is secular entertainment fine as long as it is appropriate?

Here are my thoughts on this:

God created the world. God is truth. The created world cannot help but reflect God’s truth. Secular media may unknowingly reflect deep and profound truths about God and who we are in God.

Of course, there are many sources of entertainment that are completely inappropriate or promote messages absolutely contrary to Christianity. Those are a no-no, no questions asked, no exceptions.

But in the vaguer areas, the songs that are appropriate but don’t really have a “Christian” message, the children’s movies that aren’t inappropriate but aren’t particular Christ-centered either, the books by secular authors, look for little nuggets of truth.

They may be unintentional, but they will be there.

This train of thought, for me, was sparked by the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. I was listening to it on the way home from dance and started wondering whether, as a Christian, I should limit myself only to Christian music.

Then I started paying attention to the words of the song.

Here’s just a few lines that really hit me.

“Everybody’s been there,

Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy

“Fallen for the fear

“And done some disappearing…

“Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue…

“And since your history of silence

“Won’t do you any good

“Did you think it would?

“Let your words be anything but empty

“Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

That could be a Christian song, couldn’t it? As I listened to these words, I felt myself inspired to be a witness, to stand up for what I believe without fear, to stop my shy silence and speak up. Even though it doesn’t specifically mention God or Christianity, this song got me thinking about spiritual things. And anything that does that, to me, is good.

If we really listen, we can find truth all around us. And that can be so encouraging.

So use discernment. Don’t limit yourself just to Christian media. When you do consume secular entertainment, pay close attention to the worldviews and messages. When you find anti-Christian messages, avoid them, as I’m sure you’ve been told many times before.

But there is a flip-side to that, too, that rarely gets mentioned. When you find truth in secular media, rejoice! Let it encourage you.

God can speak through sources that aren’t explicitly Christian. Secular media can portray truth and beauty as well as, or better than, “Christian” entertainment. God is the creator of all art, everything that is lovely and good, and art is meant to be enjoyed.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever found exciting nuggets of truth in secular entertainment? Do you disagree with me, and limit yourself to strictly “Christian” media? How do you use discernment in your entertainment choices? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

A Peek Inside My Music Library

Thoughts on Unrealistic Expectations and “Happily Ever After”

March 2017 Month in Review

For me, at least, March was very much a month of the daily grind. Very little excitement, very little unusual happening. Just trying to live faithfully, day in and day out. I’m not sure I did a very good job.

But the daily grind doesn’t have to mean boredom. It doesn’t have to mean gritting our teeth and just doing the same thing one. more. time. In fact, joy does not depend on excitement and adventure. Joy can be found in the everyday, by trusting that every task in front of us on any given day is one that God has given us to be completed in diligence and enjoyed with gratitude.

Bloggings of the Month

after the rain2.jpg lessons from the rain (which got such a good response! I’m so glad it helped so many people)

reblog from my old blog: how I enjoyed reading Deuteronomy (a preview of a series to come)

Image result for the broken way a review of one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read

 

Truths of the Month

from Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Romans

*we are called not only to understand the Word intellectually, but to believe in our inmost heart and let it saturate our entire soul, constantly being reminded of it in our daily life and seeing and doing everything according to it

*we can learn from the sin of others, not watching it in a proud, judgmental way, but in fear, humility, and gratitude, realizing that we could very easily follow the same path

*God could have given us passages in the Bible about modern issues like social media and dating, but He didn’t…those issues should not be our focus. our focus should be on simply glorifying God in every circumstance

*joy can be found in our work by attributing our success not to ourselves, but to God, and being thankful for it

*the things that scare us about today’s world are not unique to modern times. God can handle it according to His perfect wisdom. there is nothing we have to do but trust

*in suffering, we do not have to force joy, but still continue to trust God and live faithfully even in sadness

Favorites of the Month

Image result for greenwitch The third book of The Dark is Rising Sequence, and my favorite of the series. The whole series is definitely worth reading, though!

Image result for the broken way See review above. So beautiful, profound, and healing.

Image result for sense and sensibility movie Elinor Dashwood is literally me. The weird part was seeing Snape play a proper English gentleman, and a good guy at that!

Image result for the fellowship of the ring A rewatch, obviously. But just had to include it because…how could I not?

Image result for age of minority If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you must! Sososo good for Christian teens or any Christian, really. And highly entertaining as well…I frequently look like a weirdo because I laugh out loud while driving.

34ae55bcedeaf01f8c8cd055559cb7fe an article in defense of fairy tales that I LOVED with every fibre of my being!

Coming in April

  • the beginning of my Lessons from the Old Testament Law series
  • a review or two, perhaps

How was your March? What are you looking forward to in April? Let me know in the comments! 

love, grace

The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering

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The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

My Rating: Five Stars

Age Suggestion: 12+

The Book

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.

This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness.  You could be one of the Beloved who is broken — and still lets yourself be loved.

You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually  within it.

You could discover and trust this broken way — the way to not be afraid of broken things.

(from Amazon with edits)

My Thoughts

This book is, to put it simply, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

I bought it a while back when I was at Barnes and Noble, and had put it at the end of my stack of books waiting to be read. But one day when I was having a particularly bad day, I needed something to encourage me and grabbed this book off the shelf. Wow, was it exactly what I was looking for.

The Broken Way is a raw, deeply personal, beautifully reflective exploration of how to navigate suffering as a Christian, and if you are going through something right now this book will absolutely speak to your soul. I cannot recommend it enough for those of you who are undergoing suffering of your own.

Even if you aren’t going through suffering, still read it! It addresses both the big suffering and the little, everyday stresses and worries that bother us all, giving a way to get through the general imperfection of life.

Ann Voskamp is one of the most talented writers alive today, and reading her writing is a unique experience unlike anything else. There were so many moments where I had to stop and read a phrase out loud to myself, slowly, and reflect on it before reading on, because it hit me so hard.

I have a feeling this will be one of my most-read, battered, scribbled-in-the-margins books in the years to come. It’s the kind of book that will change your life if you let it, the kind of book that every Christian should read and re-read and savor and live by.

Favorite Quotes (for just a taste of the beauty) 

“Blessed are those who are sad, who mourn, who feel the loss of what they love – because they will be held by the One who loves them. There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know – for they shall be held.” (18)

“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.” (29)

“Your life is unwreckable. Because Christ’s love is unstoppable. What seems to be undoing you can ultimately remake you.” (146)

“Feelings are meant to be fully felt and then fully surrendered to God. The word emotion comes from the Latin for ‘movement’ – and all feelings are meant to move you toward God.” (182)

“Jesus comes to give you freely through His passion what every other god forces you to try to get through performance…How can I not ache with a grateful love for a compassion like this? And how could His compassion for me not compel me to give His compassion to the aching?” (228)

 

What do you think? Have you read The Broken Way? If so, did you love it as much as I did? If not, will you read it now? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read More:

Check out my Facebook page for a mini-review of Beauty and the Beast.

8 Books Every Christian Teen Should Read

Book Review: Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

February 2017 Month in Review

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Love. It’s what makes the world go ’round, or so they say, and in the month of February it seems like love is all everyone talks about. Candy, flowers, romantic comedies, and those adorable “relationship goals”. It’s all light, fluffy, happy, and wonderful.

This is the world’s brand of love. Have you bought into it? Is it really all that it seems to be from the outside? Or is the inside of the world’s love rather shallow and empty?

There is another kind of love: a love that truly makes the world continue to spin. Without this love, we would all have no hope. This love never ends, never fails, no matter what we do. It is infinite.

This is God’s brand of love. And when you believe in it, it changes you, and when you strive to emulate it, it changes the lives of others. When the love we talk about is a deep, everlasting love, there is nothing empty about it. It is the most full thing in the world.

Bloggings of the Month

the-relationship-series4 developing  your convictions on dating; hope for those who have already done things they regret

the-relationship-series5 an action plan for contentment in singleness

Image result for sherlocka review of my new favorite TV show

Truths of the Month

I’ve been reading in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers this month, as well as some in the New Testament. Inspired by this post, I’m dropping the daily plan and simply reading a few chapters every morning, with the goal of getting through the Bible at least once this year, if not more than once.

A few truths from my reading:

*Just as the sacrifices of the Israelites were to be “without blemish”, so Christ was the only one who could possibly die for us, the only one who could meet God’s standard of perfection.

*Even though the Old Testament law is no longer fully in effect, we are still called to remain clean and holy, just in different ways, staying away from sin and darkness.

*Jesus didn’t spend the night before His death doing anything world-changing, but something very common, having dinner with his disciples. Yet God worked in that just as much as something bigger.

*Cleansing after touching something impure was a lengthy, involved process, symbolizing how hard it is for us to purify ourselves outside of Christ.

(A few of these are a bit of a preview for a series I’m going to do soon about what we can learn from the Old Testament Law. I’ve been learning so much as I’ve read it alongside the gospels, seeing so much parallelism and cool things like that. More to come!)

Favorites of the Month

Image result for the reason for god Reread The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and was just blown away by it all over again. If you are having doubts, you don’t know how to defend Christianity, or you just want to strengthen your faith even more, you must read this book! 

Image result for newsies live So, um, this happened…and I got to see it in the theater!! Oh my goodness, it was amazing. If this version ever comes out on DVD or Netflix or anything, I highly recommend!

 It’s a Wonderful Time to Be Christian: Five Reasons for Optimism in America is the last article you would expect someone to write right now, but despite what you might assume it’s not sarcasm. From Desiring God, this article is so encouraging and brings a unique perspective to the political and cultural atmosphere right now.

 Kill Sin or Sin Will Kill You, also from Desiring God, is a jarring reminder of the seriousness of sin and what it will take to kill it in our lives.

 On Faith and Fashion was a wonderful article about what fashion can mean for the Christian girl. As someone who loves clothes and makeup and is just generally very girly, I loved this way of looking at it!

Coming in March

  • Struggles with perfectionism; excellence vs. perfection; finding balance
  • Lessons from the rain
  • A book review of something to be determined

 

How was your March? What did God teach you? Did you read or watch anything amazing this month? Also, do you like this new format for these posts or do you prefer the old one? I’m experimenting a bit. Tell me in the comments below! 

love, grace

 

 

 

January 2017 Month in Review

january-2017-month-in-review-2

We’re already at the end of the first month of the new year. How are you doing with your goals? Are you living bolder, better, brighter for God in the new year? Accomplishing everything you could have dreamed?

Or are you, like me, realizing that God’s plans for you mostly involve seemingly small, mundane, ordinary things?

I’m learning that progress doesn’t happen overnight and that sometimes the hardest part of the Christian life is trusting that God is working in you even when it doesn’t feel like it. Trusting that He is in control of every small task that comes into your life and every small worry that crosses your mind.

Big goals are great, but don’t be discouraged if you aren’t accomplishing the lofty things you had hoped. Simply move forward into the next month, one step at a time, seeking to live for God in all things, small and big, and look for the little victories that are evidence of a greater work in your life.

This Month’s Devotions

I’m following the yearly reading plan laid out in the back of my Bible. I started late, but just doubled up a couple of days to catch up and now I’m on track. I just finished reading through the Bible, but I’ve never actually read the whole thing in a year, as the first time it took me a little longer. We’ll see what happens.

Some truths from this month:

*God will always provide what we need, and even more than we need (from Exodus 4-6)

*God is terrifying in anger, but that anger will never be used against us- only for us (from Exodus 15)

*God knows what He’s doing when He prompts us to do certain things in our lives…why would we question Him? He is the all-powerful God of the universe and knows so much better than us

*Equal treatment for all people is a very important part of God’s law system (Exodus 23:1-9), yet equality for ourselves should not be our focus; instead we should focus on serving others (Matthew 20:25-28)

Bloggings

This month I started a series on dating in the teen years (more specifically, why I’ve chosen not to). There were three installments:

why I'm not dating in high school 1.jpgGod’s Purpose for Romance

why I'm not dating in high school 2.jpgGod’s Purpose for Singleness

why I'm not dating in high school 3-corrected.jpgAvoiding Drama and Temptation

from other blogs…

From Mirriam Neal: become (super inspiring) and a super helpful hack for fixing flat characters

Observer > Critic (this sounds like a very hard but also very worthwhile mindset shift)

Even though getting old isn’t even on my radar yet, I loved this post: Your “Age” is Defined by Your Attitude, Not a Number

7 Tips for Victorian Happiness (this post is why I followed this blog)

If you were wondering about my political thoughts, other Grace says it perfectly

How to Find Time to Read More. Not sure if this was helpful or not…but definitely entertaining!

Readings

Image result for till we have facesImage result for the rose and the balloon by kirsten fichterImage result for interrupted by rachel cokerImage result for little womenImage result for little men bantamImage result for little men bantam

  • Till We Have Faces: 4 stars. Obviously very good, since it’s C.S. Lewis, but I felt like I didn’t quite get the point of it or something. Probably need to read it again.
  • The Rose and the Balloon: 3 stars. Imperfect, since it’s a self-published book by a young author, but a cute story and a light, quick read.
  • Interrupted: 4.5 stars. I loved this book so much! Probably my favorite of the month. It was such a sweet romance with a deeper message, completely clean, and a Christian perspective.
  • Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys: 4-5 stars. Rereads all, and all just as good as the first time 😉

A few articles I enjoyed:

A final note: if you haven’t discovered The Babylon Bee yet, you’re missing out. It’s Christian News Satire from Christians and as long as you don’t take any of it too seriously, it’s really funny.

Watchings

Image result for sherlock season 4Image result for becoming janeImage result for les miserables movie

  • Sherlock, season 4: 5 stars. Oh my goodness. This season tossed my heart around and made me laugh and cry and scream and if you haven’t yet watched this show I think it is literally the best TV show I’ve ever seen and you need to watch it.
  • Becoming Jane: 4 stars. This was a really good movie! (Although sad…so don’t expect a happy chick-flick ending.) Would probably recommend to ages 14 and up because of a bit of content.
  • Les Miserables: 5 stars. So, so, so good!! I can’t believe it took me this long to watch it. Again, some content, but the scenes are easily fast-forwardable. The music is incredible and the cast is amazing and there is lots of food for thought as well.

Listenings

Image result for ruelle up in flamesImage result for hamilton logoImage result for the music of jane austenImage result for evynne hollens covers vol 1Image result for age of minority podcast

  • Up in Flames: I recently discovered Ruelle, an alternative singer with some really great songs. You might especially like her if you’re a fan of Twenty One Pilots or similar bands.
  • Hamilton: Introduced my sister to Hamilton this month! (She loves it.) If you haven’t listened to it yet, please do! It’s amazing.
  • The Music of Jane Austen: Loving this as something to listen to while I do homework or write.
  • Covers Vol. 1: This has been my go-to album lately when I don’t know what to listen to. Evynne Hollens is amazing and every song on here is so good.
  • Age of Minority: This is a podcast started by Jaquelle Crowe, editor of The Rebelution, and her dad. They talk about different topics related to being a Christian teen in today’s world, as well as lots of fun topics as well. So fun to listen to and highly, highly recommended! Find it here.

Upcoming in February

  • A continuation of my series on dating, discussing how to develop your convictions, what to do if someone asks you out, being content to be single, and more.
  • A review of Sherlock seasons 1-4. (And yes, I know I keep promising this and it doesn’t happen…I will get it done at some point!)

 

How was your January? Did you read, watch, or listen to anything amazing? What are you excited for in February? Tell me in the comments!

love, grace

 

 

December 2016 Month in Review

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Christmas trees, Christmas music, Christmas cookies, Christmas presents…annnd just like that, December is over. In rolls January, bringing goals and fresh starts, snow (?) (please?), and a return to the normal routine.

I get very excited over making goals for the year. Last year I changed all my goals like three times during the year and then ditched them altogether, but let’s see if I can do better this year. I have a new planner, which always makes me optimistic about what I can do with my life. (I’m a planner nerd.)

And I really, really hope it snows soon! It never snows in December where I live but we usually get quite a bit of snow in January and February. Snow days are amazing.

This Month’s Devotions

This month, I read through Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift, an Advent devotional with Bible passages, readings to go with them, and questions for reflection. It was the second time I used this book during the Advent season and I absolutely loved it.

Ann Voskamp’s writing is superbly beautiful and the perfect way to stay focused on Christ during Advent. If you missed it, my Advent Reflections series was based on some of my favorite quotes from the book. All of those posts will be linked in the next section.

I’m currently studying The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. I started to have some questions about faith and the proof for God that I wanted to seek out answers to. I had read this book before, but not thoroughly, and didn’t remember any of it. This time I’m taking notes!

Bloggings

Image result for noel josh groban I shared some of my favorite Christmas music, both old favorites and new discoveries

childhood-christmas-favorites2 I also shared nostalgic Christmas favorites that I still enjoy

advent reflections part 1.jpgadvent-reflections-part-2advent reflections part 3.jpgadvent-reflections-part-4 the Advent series: part 1part 2part 3part 4

 a fun Christmasy tag

book and movie of the year 2016 2.jpg this year’s best book and movie

from other blogs…

A beautiful post about the wonder of God.

Also from The Rebelution, an interview with Tony Reinke about teens and technology. Totally worth listening to the whole thing!

Amanda’s post about facing the future really encouraged me as I start to think about what might be in my future…

Grace had a really great post about why she’s not ashamed she homeschools. I may not be homeschooled anymore, but I am still one of its biggest advocates, and this post hit the nail on the head.

Katie Gregoire is not a beauty guru. Also subscribe to her channel. She’s great.

A Studio C sketch in which the holidays are personified. One of my favorites of theirs recently!

If you haven’t seen Moana, you should. If you need more convincing: listen to this song.

And finally, if you still need more Christmas music in your life, here’s a gorgeous acapella Silent Night.

Readings

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  • Fourth Dawn: 3.5 stars. A very interesting look at Mary and Joseph and the history surrounding Christ’s birth. Read my Goodreads review for more.
  • The Greatest Gift: 5 stars of course. I think I’ve talked about this book enough on here already.
  • Letters from Father Christmas: 5 stars. I got this book as a gift; it was a Tolkien book that I didn’t even know existed! And the cover is gorgeous and glossy with that red and gold design; so pretty. Obviously I loved it, it’s Tolkien 😉
  • Library of Souls: 4 stars. My least favorite of the series, but still good. And the ending! It was actually happy. I was not sure how it would end happily, but it did!

Watchings

Image result for a charlie brown christmasImage result for moanaImage result for elfImage result for america's got talent christmas spectacularImage result for the nutcracker abt baryshnikovImage result for alice in wonderland royal ballet dvdImage result for sherlock

Yes, it was Christmas break. How can you tell?

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: 4 stars. It was high time I actually watched this, and it was cute! A nice way to start my break.
  • Moana: 4 stars. Such a good movie! I would recommend seeing it in the theater if it’s still in theaters to get the quality sound and everything. The music is 5 stars (obviously, since it’s by Lin Manuel Miranda). And he even sings in one of the songs!
  • Elf: 5 stars. I’ve watched bits and pieces of this over the years but never actually seen the whole thing until this month. I loved it! So cute, and definitely something I will watch for Christmases to come.
  • AGT Holiday Spectacular: This is definitely a guilty-pleasure show, but this holiday version was fun! It was fun to see contestants come back and perform without the judging part.
  • The Nutcracker: Well, of course I had to watch this. I featured it in my childhood favorites post, and I can’t let a Christmas go by without seeing it!
  • Alice in Wonderland: 4 stars. I got this for Christmas and watched it immediately. It’s a relatively new, very creative ballet, that even people who are new to ballet would like because of all the different aspects (puppetry, tap dancing, etc.).
  • Sherlock: I just finished Season 3 last night. Still one of my favorite shows. CANNOT WAIT FOR SEASON 4 (which, if you hadn’t heard, is finnnnnnaly airing on Sunday!)

Listenings

I did a whole post on Christmas music so that basically covers it.

Upcoming in January

  • An official review of the first three seasons of Sherlock
  • Why I Don’t Date in High School: the beginnings of a two-month series on relationships in the teen years

 

I hope you had a wonderful December! What did you enjoy reading and watching this month? Are you excited for January? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

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It’s already time for another book and movie of the year post! I had so much fun doing this last year and so I’m excited to do it again.

The choice, especially for books, was slightly agonizing, but I’m happy with the titles I’ve picked. In the end I just had to go with a gut feeling about which books most deserved this title.

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid to promote C.S. Lewis. Futhermore, this blog is not sponsored by C.S. Lewis, who happens to be no longer living anyway so how he would sponsor my blog, I don’t know. 

All jokes aside, I was a little concerned about choosing another C.S. Lewis book for my Book of the Year (last year’s was That Hideous Strength), but what can I say? C.S. Lewis is truly one of the greatest authors ever, and out of all the books I read this year, this one was the best. I do not take this choice lightly, and I didn’t want to choose a lesser book simply so that I wouldn’t have the same author two years in a row.

(It’s my award. I make the rules. And I say that the book can be by the same author two years in a row.)

So with that out of the way, I present to you…the 2016 Book and Movie of the Year! 

Book of the Year: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

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Runner-up: The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart 

The Last Battle is the final book of the Narnia series, the culmination of every plot in the other books. I had definitely read it before, but I was so young I didn’t remember, and this year was the first time that I sat down and read the whole Narnia series, from start to finish within a few weeks, on my own. The Last Battle blew me away.

The endings of the other books are all so bittersweet, with the children returning to the real world, unsure if they will return. But not this one. This one displayed the great climax of human history and the great resolution of final peace and joy. The ending is made even sweeter because of the previous books, all of the characters reunited in eternal happiness. This book somehow captures what the feeling may be like when Christ returns, and it is a picture of heaven that I will never forget.

The runner-up is a whole series, because taking one book out of the series robs it of its magic. The four books together make The Mysterious Benedict Society series what it is: a wonderful story of friendship and good defeating evil. While a children’s book, it has such important messages for all ages, and is a story that everyone can enjoy. It is a happy story that is deep and meaningful at the same time, a rare find in this age of dark and depressing or light and fluffy books.

Movie of the Year: Big Fish (2003)

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Runner-up: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) 

I don’t think Big Fish is a movie that can really be explained. I can’t explain what it’s about, or why it had such a huge emotional effect on me, but I’ll try anyway.

The movie is the story of a father and son, shown in the present and in flashbacks through the father’s life. All during the son’s childhood, the father told wild stories about his own life, passing them off as truth. As an adult, the son greatly distrusts his father and resents those stories.

The movie explores their relationship, especially when the father becomes very sick. It explores the power of stories and the lasting effect they have on our lives. The ending had me crying my eyes out, and the whole movie is fun, humorous, entertaining, deep, beautiful, and sad all at the same time.

And yes, more Narnia as the runner-up. This year I watched a Narnia movie for the first time, and was really pleased with how well it was adapted! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is visually gorgeous, well-cast, and stays very true to the book. I’m hesitant to watch the rest of the movies from things I’ve heard, but this one at least did a very good job and left me happy and satisfied.

 

What do you think? Do you like my choices? What are some of the best things you read and watched in 2016? Tell me in the comments!