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!

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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!

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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

2017 Year in Review

year in review

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

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

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

Most Popular Posts (by pageviews)

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

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

Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag

Why Growing Up is a Good Thing

The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering

Other Personal Favorite Posts

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

God’s Purpose for Singleness

Avoiding Drama and Temptation

Developing Your Convictions on Dating 

4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness

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

Favorite Books of 2017

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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

book and movie of the year edited

About the Award

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

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

See previous awards here:

Book and Movie of the Year 2015

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

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

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

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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

 

Favorites: Fall 2017

fall favs edited

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

Three Habits to Cultivate Now (+giveaway winner!)

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I’m so excited to announce that the winner of my very first giveaway is Jazzy Belle! Congrats! Please use the Contact form to send me your address sometime in the next few days, and I’ll mail you your goodies! 

For me, a new school year has always been my favorite time to set goals for myself, even more so than January. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to come one step closer to the person who you were made to be.

But if you try to change everything about yourself overnight, it won’t last (trust me). The better method is to slowly, patiently cultivate some new habits, making some small but lasting changes that will have an impact on your whole life. Focus on a few areas where you know you could improve, a few things that will have a positive effect on your physical, mental, or spiritual health as you move forward in life.

If you’re stumped, here are three habits that would be especially good to cultivate while you’re a teenager.

1. Memorizing Scripture.

This is one of those things that will only get harder as you get older (or so I hear…). So take advantage of your young brain and memorize chunks of the Bible now to comfort, encourage, and inspire you when things get tough down the road.

If you have no idea how to begin, here are a few great resources to help:

2. Attending church every week.

For some of you, this is a no-brainer. On Sundays, your families get up and go to church; it’s just what you do. Even though this might be something you’ve done for as long as you can remember, make sure to actually think about why you do it, to own the practice for yourself, so that when you’re on your own it will still be a weekly habit.

And if your family doesn’t go to church every week, it should still be a priority for you to find a church family and a way to get there on Sundays! There is no greater gift that God has given us than the church, and regular fellowship with other believers is one of the most essential aspects of the Christian life. Rooting yourself in a Christian community, no matter where in the world you end up over the course of your life, will be one of the best things you can do for your spiritual health.

3. Setting aside regular time to read.

Reading for school doesn’t count in this category – I’m encouraging you to read books that you choose! Whether that’s fantasy novels, biographies, or Christian nonfiction, regularly reading outside of your assigned books is a much more productive use of your time than always watching TV or scrolling through social media. Some of that is fine, of course, but reading helps stimulate your brain and your creativity. Getting in the habit of always having a book on hand now, as a teenager, means you’ll probably read a lot of really great books in the years to come!

To get started, check out these previous posts:

And if you’re looking for more recommendations, I’ve done lots of book reviews, so browse through some of those for ideas!

 

I’m not going to claim that these three habits will totally change your life. But each of them will have a small, positive impact that will ultimately last longer and have a greater effect on your well-being than all of those superficial, overnight changes that disappear in a month.

Don’t feel like you have to “remake yourself” this school year – start small, and gradually you will build a life to be proud of.

What do you think? Are you already cultivating any of these habits? What habits do you want to add to your life this school year? Share in the comments! 

A final note before I go: School starts for me on Monday, so I’ll be switching back to my weekly Saturday posts. I love posting more often when I can, but weekly posting is always the most realistic schedule for me during the school year! 

love, grace

Read more:

24 Resolution Ideas for Christian Teens

Why You Need to Overcome Procrastination

4 Time Management Tips

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

I know many of you who follow my blog are avid readers, with stacks and piles of books waiting to be read. I am, too. I love books and reading is one of my favorite leisure activities.

But once school starts, our time slowly slips away from us and we find ourselves reading less and less. What can we do to ensure that even during the school year, when life gets busy, we are still enjoying great books on a regular basis?

I have four tips for you:

1. Take a book with you to school every day.

This may not apply to those of you who are homeschooled, but it’s the single tip that has made the most difference for me. I carry the book that I’m currently reading in my backpack every single day – it’s a daily essential just as much as my planner is.

Because there’s so much downtime in public school classes, and because I’m a pretty fast test-taker, I get a lot of reading done in little bits and pieces throughout the day. Between classes, after a quiz or test, on the bus, during study hall if you don’t have anything else to do…all of that is valuable time perfect for pulling out a book.

2. Set aside particular times in your weekly routine to read.

During the school year, spontaneously picking up a book in your “free time” usually isn’t going to happen (mostly because that free time doesn’t really exist). But if you structure longer chunks of reading time into your week, you’ll make steady progress. For me, this is usually weekends, especially Sundays. But whether it’s every evening before bed or for three hours on Saturday afternoon, plan some regular time into your schedule when you can consistently get some reading in.

3. Listen to audiobooks.

To be honest, I really prefer print books. There’s something about holding a book in your hand that just can’t be replaced. But if you’re an auditory learner, or you’re literally always on the go and can’t find time to read anywhere in your schedule, audiobooks might be a good option. You can listen to them while you’re driving, working out, doing chores, walking your dog, and more; it’s a great way to get through the books you want to read while still getting other things done as well.

Using audiobooks for school reading while multitasking can be a great way to save time too. (Even consider putting them on double-speed to save even more time!) You can then use the time that you would have spent reading school books to do other things (like reading for fun, maybe…?).

4. Choose books that you can’t put down.

Finally, make sure you are reading books that pull you in, books that you will voluntarily choose over social media and all those other time-wasting activities. If forcing yourself to read Charles Dickens is going to mean you never actually read at all, then don’t try to read Charles Dickens during the school year! Maybe do that over the summer instead.

If you like classics, by all means read classics. But if you just need to read light, fun books to take a break from schoolwork, that’s totally fine too.

Here are a few of my favorite lighter reads to get you started (if you want more details about any of these feel free to leave a comment!).

Image result for paper crowns mirriam nealPaper Crowns by Mirriam Neal (fantasy, fairy tale; be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of this if you haven’t!)

Image result for the lunar chroniclesImage result for heartlessThe Lunar Chronicles and Heartless by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi/dystopian, fantasy, fairy tale retellings; some intense scenes/violence and mostly clean romance)

Image result for the penderwicksThe Penderwicks and sequels by Jeanne Birdsall (contemporary, family)

Image result for vinegar girl Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (contemporary, clean romance; maybe some language, I don’t remember)

Image result for interrupted rachel coker Interrupted by Rachel Coker (historical, clean romance, Christian)

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and sequels by Ransom Riggs (fantasy/weird sort of historical; some language and intensity)

Image result for dragon king trilogy stephen lawhead The Dragon King trilogy by Stephen Lawhead (epic fantasy, adventure; some scary scenes/violence)

Image result for mitford series The Mitford series by Jan Karon (contemporary, family, Christian)

 

What do you think? How do you make time to read during the year? Have you read any of the books I recommended, and what others would you recommend? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

 

 

 

Book Review: Paper Crowns

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Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal

My Rating: Four Stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

The Book

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

My Thoughts

This was a cute, innocent romp into the world of fantasy, and I loved it! It was such fun to read, and left me feeling happy and satisfied. So many books these days tend to drain my emotions or end unsatisfactorily, and this was a nice break from that.

The plot itself is relatively simple, and I mean that as a compliment. It was refreshing to enjoy a story that wasn’t convoluted or incredibly complex (as much as I love that kind of book too), where the plot was a straightforward good vs. evil with a bit of magic thrown in. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simplicity, nothing wrong with books that don’t attempt to tackle the problems of the world, and rather just give us a good story.

That’s not to say that there weren’t unique elements. I don’t know that I’ve ever before read a fantasy novel where the core group of questers (is that a word…I don’t know…) included a small petulant child and a really cute dog. So that made for some really interesting dynamics in the group as things went along.

The best part of this book was definitely, without a doubt, the dialogue! It’s funny and touching and kept me interested the whole time. And Mirriam is not afraid to layer the sass and bantering on thick! Often I read books that have a little bit of banter and then it’s not enough and I’m left wanting more, maybe because the author was afraid of overdoing it. Paper Crowns has just enough. It’s not forced and it all flows well with the story and the characters. It makes it more realistic too – because even on a dangerous quest, a regular group of people isn’t going to be solemn and single-minded the whole time. There will be little annoyances and quibbles and teasing and laughter. And she captured that so well.

Hal is the best. *tapes my mouth shut* *talks about Hal for twenty minutes, but luckily you can’t understand any of it because there’s tape on my mouth and SPOILERS*

Ginger herself was such a refreshing main character! She was sarcastic and independent without being the kind of stereotypical “tough girl” that gets on my nerves. There was a feminine side to her, a vulnerable side, the side that likes to buy pretty craft paper and fold it into birds and flowers. It was a beautiful balance that I really appreciated.

And the cast of supporting characters was unique and well-rounded, each one adding something to the story. The only one that I didn’t really feel was unique enough was Azrael, even though I loved him, because he and Hal were a little too similar for me. But overall, every character was great, entertaining, with a good role in the story.

*Content Warnings*

No language. Romance has some kissing but is all completely sweet and clean. There is a villain, with some violence including a few deaths and a climactic final battle; a few of the unsavory characters are a bit on the creepy side as well. But nothing is overly graphic at all, and it still retains a very innocent feel. This is a book I will definitely be giving to my younger sisters to read.

Basically, this is the kind of clean, sweet, innocently entertaining book that is so hard to find nowadays; it has high stakes that keep it interesting, but all with a light fairy-taleish feel. Mirriam’s writing is fantastic and I have a feeling this is a book I will often reread! I highly recommend it to anyone who looks fantasy, fairy tales, or just clean, good books. It’s great if you have younger siblings who need book recommendations too!

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

love, grace

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