Favorites Roundup: January ’19

Snowy Forest

Featuring the snow we don’t have here in the sunny South…

A few things that brightened my days this January:

Favorite Books

Image result for the looking glass wars Having gone back to school this month, my reading plummeted a little, but this book has definitely been a highlight. I haven’t quite finished it, but the creative premise and exciting plot have me excited to reach the end!

Image result for 13 little blue envelopes This was a quick, light read with a very interesting premise and a lot more depth than might appear on the surface. I related to the main character a LOT, which always makes a book more special! (Content recommended for ages 16+)

Favorite TV Show

Image result for pushing daisies I just started Season 2 of this show, and I love it so very much! It’s a detective show that has a quirky, fantastical feeling to it, with lovable characters and lots of character development and interesting relationships. Highly recommend! (Content recommended for ages 15+)

Favorite Song

 

Have you read anything good this month? Do you read as much once school starts back up? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. A Peek Inside My Music Library (for a throwback look…anyone want an updated version?)

2018 Year in Review

Fireworks Display Above Trees

2018 is over.

This year has been a crazy ride: the completion of the college application process, the whirlwind of senior year events and grad parties and graduation itself, a two-week trip to Europe that was an incredible experience, moving into college, and completing my first semester at the college of my dreams.

On the blog, all of this change has meant sometimes spotty posts, and so I want to thank all of you so very much for sticking around and being patient with me. Now that I’ve gotten back into the groove of posting weekly, I want it to stay that way. I’m just settling in for my second semester, so we’ll see what happens as classes get going, but Saturday posts are definitely what I’m aiming for!

For now, here’s a look back at some 2018 highlights:

Most Popular Posts (By Pageviews)

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Should Christians Read Fiction?

We Need Higher-Quality Christian Art.

Transitions: Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

Why Christians Should Care About the Arts

Other Personal Favorite Posts

Why the Arts Are a Valid Career Path for Christians (are you noticing what the theme for this year was yet?)

Christian, It’s Okay to Dance.

Should We Accept Ourselves For Who We Are?

Favorite Books of 2018

Image result for circus mirandus

Image result for greenglass house

Image result for fawkes nadine brandes

Image result for love walked in

Image result for the importance of being earnest book

Favorite Movies of 2018

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Image result for the importance of being earnest movie

Image result for ramona and beezus

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Coming in 2019

So…here’s the truth.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t post as much during the fall is because I’m starting to feel really burnt out on blogging.

I feel like I don’t have anything to say anymore.

It used to be, everything would inspire me to write posts. I had a list of ideas a mile long. And sure, I still have enough ideas that I could fill the blog, but…they aren’t ideas I’m passionate about. They aren’t things that motivate me to write.

I’m in a kind of limbo right now with this blog. Blogging isn’t really the cool thing anymore, but I really enjoy it. But at this point I’ve been doing it for so long (more than four years!) that I feel like I’m exhausting my niche. I’ve changed a lot since I started this blog, and I’m not really sure what direction I want to take it in now.

I guess the main thing I’m saying is that there may be a lot of experimentation in 2019. Please, give me lots of feedback! Let me know which of my posts you like and don’t like as I play around and try different things.

And right now, I need your input. Give me requests and suggestions and questions! Tell me what you want me to focus on! More movie reviews? More bookish content? More Bible studies, cultural issues, practical posts? Lifestyle? Fashion?!

Basically, the sky is the limit for 2019, and I want to know how best to serve you! So share all the thoughts in the comments!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2018, and here’s to a full and adventurous 2019!

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: December ’18

White Calendar on White Surface

Here are some of the things that made my heart happy this December.

Favorite Books

Besides my two books of the year, here are a few other reads that I really enjoyed this month:

Image result for a thousand perfect notes Heartbreaking and beautiful. (Heavy material, recommended for ages 15+)

Image result for i'd rather be reading I read this little book in one plane ride. Besides just being super pretty to hold and look at, the essays inside are delightful and relatable. The perfect thing for some light winter reading.

Image result for austenland book This book was so. much. fun. And it wasn’t all fluff either; it had serious moments and wrestled with some things that I think many Austen fans will relate to! (Some content, recommended for ages 16+)

Favorite Movies

(Besides the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies.)

Image result for ramona and beezus This movie surprised me with how good it was. It’s a fun, family-friendly film that’s high-quality and well-made, balancing several different storylines really well and having some very poignant and lovely messages.

Image result for home alone Watched this for the first time ever this Christmas season, and loved it, of course.

Favorite Articles/Blogs

Favorite Videos

Favorite Song

 

What music did you enjoy this Christmas? And what are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year

Books on Bookshelves

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.

I make an effort to choose more modern books, since we can all agree that classics are classics for a reason, and my goal is to help you find amazing media that you might not have heard of or be unsure about. 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.

You can find previous awards here:

2015

2016

2017

Book of the Year: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (2015)

Runner-Up: Greenglass House by Kate Milford (2014)

circus mirandus.jpggreenglass house.jpg

About the winner: 

Do you believe in magic? Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. (from Goodreads)

If you loved The Night Circus, or if you have any kind of interest in magical circuses, or if you like children’s books that feel deep and meaningful and old-fashioned in the best way, Circus Mirandus is for you. The magical-circus atmosphere is lovely, and the story is wonderful. It doesn’t use magic as an excuse, presenting realities of life in a way that doesn’t deny their weight. But it does it in a childlike way, balancing innocence and hope with the pain.

I’ve been really enjoying children’s books lately, and it’s always a delight to find more recently-published books that have this kind of quality and depth. Unlike the runner-up, this one isn’t a Christmas read necessarily, but the magical feeling lends itself very well to this season. It would be a great family read-aloud, a great one to give to younger siblings, or something to read by yourself on a cozy winter day beside the light of the Christmas tree.

About the runner-up: 

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. (from Goodreads)

This is another more recently-published children’s book that has an atmosphere very similar to The Mysterious Benedict Society. I love it because it has the innocent feeling of childhood, but yet is a complex and deeply meaningful story with real conflict. The characters are interesting and complex, the family dynamics between Milo and his parents are really enjoyable, and the plot has plenty of twists and turns and different elements that all weave together really nicely. It takes place leading up to Christmas, so it’s a great one for the season, or to read at any point during the winter, and would also make a great family or sibling read-aloud!

Movie of the Year: The Truman Show (1998)

Runner-Up: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Image result for the truman showImage result for the importance of being earnest

About the winner: 

In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one… The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day… he finds out everything. Will he react? (from IMDb)

This is one of the most thought-provoking movies I’ve ever watched. It’s entertaining, definitely, with plenty of humor and an intriguing premise. But when you start to think harder about the premise, you realize all of the questions that the movie is really raising, and what a serious movie it really is. It leaves you searching, trying to put words to its themes, raising questions of ethics in media, of what reality TV does to our society, of consumerism and entertainment culture. And it does all of this in a carefully crafted story, in which no detail of cinematography, costuming, setting, etc. is overlooked, and in which we are equally made to laugh, cry, and think.

About the runner-up: 

Two young gentlemen living in 1890’s England use the same pseudonym (“Ernest”) on the sly, which is fine until they both fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities… (from IMDb)

I love this play, and the movie is an excellent adaptation in which everything was done pretty much exactly as I had imagined it. The whole story is an absolutely hilarious comedy of errors, making this probably the funniest period drama that exists. The actors are amazing as well: the cast features Colin Firth and Judi Dench. Overall, it’s just a quality movie that’s full of innocent fun, one that can be watched over and over, on rainy days and sick days, with other people or by yourself, a movie that, at least for me, will never get old.

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 2018? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: August ’18

Hello!

So…

It’s been a long time.

Since I last wrote, I packed up my entire life, moved 14 hours away from home, met a new roommate, moved into a new dorm, made some new friends, started some new classes, and basically started a whole new life.

And now I hope to be back to blogging for good! My life has settled into somewhat of a routine, and although it’s crazy busy, I’ll be trying to fit blog posts in every Saturday. Throughout the fall, I’ll be getting back to the Transitions series, so that you can come along with me on my college journey and hear what I’m learning as the weeks go by.

More on that later. For today, I want to share with you a belated list of some of my favorite things from August. Because I kept meaning to do this, and these are too good not to share.

Favorite Books

Image result for save the date morgan matson My first Morgan Matson book definitely lived up to the hype. Check out my full review here.

Image result for fawkes nadine brandes This book is full of incredibly powerful themes and issues. Brandes does something many authors fail to do, and fits her faith into a book in a deep and beautiful way without making it preachy. (And this book was written for the general market!)

Favorite Movies

Image result for newsies live I KNOW I’ve mentioned it on here before, but…a bunch of dorm friends and I rewatched it the other night, and I just have to say it again. Newsies Live is one of my favorite movies of all time. And it’s on Netflix, so there’s no excuse not to watch it!

Image result for the lion king Guess what?? I watched this for the VERY FIRST TIME. Amazing. Of course.

Favorite Articles/Blog Posts

Favorite Videos

Favorite Song

 

What’s the best movie you saw in August? Share in the comments!

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: June/July ’18

A roundup of some of my favorite things in the last few months…

Favorite Books

Image result for love walked in This is a new-to-me author and also a new-to-me style of literary fiction. It’s a beautiful book and I’ll definitely check out more by her. (Content recommended for ages 16+.)

Image result for wires and nerve Got this for my birthday and…read the whole thing on my birthday. Marissa Meyer never disappoints.

Favorite Movies

Image result for the sound of music I went to Salzburg as part of my trip so obviously watching this (for like the 4 billionth time) was a must. It never gets old…and there are so many layers that I didn’t even catch when I was a kid.

Image result for goodbye christopher robin The story of the real-life Christopher Robin…I really enjoyed this movie, especially the first half. I didn’t like the way it jumped ahead in time at the end, but I can forgive it for that.

Favorite Podcast Episode

“What About That Quiet Time”, from the Uniquely Woman podcast, was a thought-provoking dive into where our term “quiet time” comes from and why it’s hurting our spiritual walk. Definitely worth your time to listen to!

Favorite Articles/Blog Posts

Favorite Videos

 

What was your favorite read of June and July? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: May ’18

How was your May? Mine involved some senior milestones: college decision day, my final high-school dance production, prom…as well as boring, everyday things like school and volunteering and choir rehearsals. I’ve been fighting off serious senioritis to finish strong…now I only have four days left!

In the meantime, here are some things that have been brightening my days lately…

First of all, this amazing song:

changes everything

 

 

A highly practical guide to the Christian life for young people; just as good, if not better, the second time. (Read my original Goodreads review.)

 

 

A Million Dreams (My Lady Bibliophile) – a thoughtful, uplifting review of a movie that I had mixed feelings about

penderwicks last

 

 

An amazing conclusion to an amazing series. (Read my Goodreads review, although I warn you, it’s a bit fangirly.)

 

 

 

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A childhood show that I rediscovered this month, and fell in love with all over again. It has complex characters, interesting storylines, amazing acting, and hilarious dialogue. Highly recommend for all ages!

Image result for pippin

 

My sister was in this show back in the fall, so I knew I liked the music. But I’d forgotten how much, and recently became obsessed with it again. The show isn’t entirely clean, but the music is, and it’s well worth listening to!

 

 

17 Secrets of Audiobook Narrators – this sounds like it would be such an interesting career path!

And I really want every writer to take Abbiee’s advice, please…?

How was your May? Did you discover any awesome new music? What was your favorite book you read? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Favorites Roundup: Feb-April ’18

The Book Life Tag

Interview with Victoria Lynn – London in the Dark Anniversary Tour!

The Book Life Tag

Books

When I saw this tag on Hailey Hudson’s blog, I knew I had to do it. Who wouldn’t want to create their dream life from their favorite books??

So let’s take a chill Wednesday, a break from the deep posts, and flail over the stories we love…

Who would your parents be? 

Mr. Penderwick and Iantha from The Penderwicks (the fifth book just came out!! go buy it!). They are so kind and wise, firm when they need to be yet always loving. (Not to mention present, rather than being dead or something, and heavily involved in their kids’ lives.) Plus Mr. Penderwick speaks Latin all the time, which is cool!

(And if you haven’t read this series, I insist that you drop everything and go read it. Now.)

Who would be your sister? 

Jane Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. She would probably give really great advice and just generally be an amazing person to have around.

Who would be your brother? 

Peter Pevensie of Narnia. I’ve always wanted a much-older brother to protect me and watch out for me, and he’s basically the epitome of what I would want that older brother to be like.

Who would be your pet? 

From The Penderwicks again…Hound. And Asimov. Because the most fun is when you get to see the two of them pretending to hate each other.

Where would you live/where would you go to school? 

The Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. That book was such a huge part of my childhood, and I’ve always wished there were performing arts schools like that now, complete with British atmosphere. Those kids live the dream life, let me tell you.

And in order to attend that school, I guess I would need to live in London, where the book is set. Which I definitely have no problem with.

Who would be your best friend? 

Iko, from The Lunar Chronicles! I love her cheerfulness, her unconditional love, and the way she brings humor and brightness to every moment. She would help me get out of my comfort zone and keep me from taking myself too seriously. Plus I could give her all of my hand-me-downs.

Who would be your significant other? 

Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time. He’s so mature and sweet, and would have no problem meeting the approval of older brother Peter 🙂

Okay, I’m picturing this life now and it sounds absolutely perfect. Who wouldn’t want Jane Bennett and Peter Pevensie to be their older siblings? And live in London? And attend a performing arts school? (I mean, that might not appeal to everyone. But it does to me!)

Mainly what I’m thinking now, though: I really need to reread Ballet Shoes.

What do you think? How do you like my answers? What would your book life be like? Pick a question or two and answer them in the comments below! 

love, grace

Read more:

7 Childhood Books I Still Love

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

My 7 Favorite Book Couples (in honor of Valentine’s Day…)

Should Christians Read Fiction?

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For the past little while, we’ve been exploring what it means to use the arts well as a Christian. I’ve argued that the arts are important for Christians to pay attention tothey are a valid career path for Christians, and that as Christians, our art should be of the highest quality.

Today and next week, I want to look at two very specific types of art, ones that I am personally involved in, ones that I feel some Christians look askance at. I want to explain why I believe they are important and why I believe God created them.

First up? Fiction. Storytelling. The art of writing, of crafting plot and characters and settings to explore themes. I write fiction, although I don’t talk about it much on here, and I believe that it is such an important element of the human experience as God created us.

Whatever is True?

I remember stumbling on one of my mom’s homeschool books when I was much younger, a book where the author talked about her family only read nonfiction or fiction that could be real. They didn’t allow fairy tales, fantasy, mythology, talking animals, etc., using Philippians 4:8 (“Whatever is true…”) as their reasoning.

Even at a young age, that bothered me. Partially because I had already fallen in love with fantasy stories and stories in general, and I wondered if it was wrong to read those things, if I should give them up.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized why it really bothered me even then.

What Fiction Does

As Christians, storytelling is one of the means God has given us to reveal his truth. When we limit this storytelling to only representing things that happen in the “real world”, we lose a hugely powerful avenue of witnessing to truth and beauty.

Different genres have different purposes, but all fiction serves several important purposes.

Through fiction, we see the world through different eyes and gain the ability to empathize with people who are different from us.

Through fiction, we get to see how the universal truth of God’s Word plays out in a variety of situations that we will never actually experience.

Through fiction, we gain a more well-rounded understanding of God’s character than we would in the course of our everyday lives.

What About Fantasy?

I want to look at fantasy specifically for a second. Even though so many Christians avoid it like the plague, I think fantasy is so important. Through made-up worlds and magic and epic quests, truth and beauty find one of their best representations.

The best fantasy books are those that look seriously at real issues. By taking those issues into a made-up setting, we can consider them detached from the baggage they carry in the real world. Because of that, we can see the problems and their solutions more clearly.

The other thing fantasy does really well: illustrate the clash between good and evil. In fantasy, we see over and over that good always wins, that evil will ultimately be defeated. There is an ongoing battle between good and evil in the supernatural realm of the real world; in fantasy, without the limitations of the natural world, it is much easier to represent the truth of this fight in the way that does it justice.

The Impact of Fiction

Ultimately, fiction and nonfiction must work together. Nonfiction expresses the truth, and fiction illustrates the truth. Fiction takes nonfiction’s ideas, adds dimension, and makes them beautiful. Fiction shows the truth to us in the light of people and places and stories.

Fiction has the potential to impact the world for incredible good. The truths we learn through fiction often stay with us forever, changing our lives more than the most helpful self-help book. That is a power that Christians need to be harnessing and using for the glory of God.

And as for Philippians 4:8, there is often more truth in stories of talking animals and magic wands than there is in the most realistic of contemporary novels.

What do you think? Do you read fiction? Fantasy? What impact has fiction had on your life? 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

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

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

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)

Lowest-Rated

stargirl

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

Rereads

penderwicks

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

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

earnest

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