Tuesday, January 2, 2018

20 Books I Need to Read in 2018

You may remember(or not, which would be fine!) that last January I published a list of 20 books I wanted to read that year. Unfortunately I only read a little more than half of them, but it was a good outline of the titles that were particularly important, so I'm doing it again this year!

Some of these are leftover from the last list but most are new...

~A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

(how have I not read this yet??)

~The Scorch Trials by James Daschner

~Emma by Jane Austen

~The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

~12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

~Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield

~The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

~anything by Brandon Sanderson

~Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

~The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

~A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

~Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

~Desiring God by John Piper

~The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

~The Outsiders(as a re-read :D) by S. E. Hinton

~The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

~Just Do Something by Kevin de Young

~Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

~The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Have you read any of these? Which books are you planning to read this year? 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

nice things that happened this year

~I started my third(and maybe final??) year of high school

~I dragged any obliging friends and family to four opening movie nights(which was exciting for me since I never used to do that)

~I also saw Singin' in the Rain on the big screen for my birthday and it was awesome

photo creds to my brother

~I went tubing out of state twice-- once in water that could be construed as comfortable and once in water that couldn't be considered warm by any stretch of the imagination

~I started two new blogs, M. M. Johnson aaaand my film blog, Moving Pictures

~I probably set some sort of record for number of culinary calamities

~my family visited Yellowstone and it was beautiful

~I got a Twitter account and don't know how I feel about it yet

~I got my first (non self-employed) first job working in the school district-- first in accounting and now the library

~I made deeper friendships with a number of great people

~I listened to vinyls on my record player and felt very retro

~I started informally studying film and learned a lot about storytelling in general

~I got to pre-read two books shortly before they were released-- This Changes Everything and Cloaked

~I listened to tonnns of podcasts 

~I continued reading the Old Testament, through Ezekiel. I also read(/have started) a few theology books that have been pretty influential 

I'm thankful for the experiences of 2017 and look forward to what lies after the bend in the road of 2018

What are some of your highlights of 2017?

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Four Best Books I Read in 2017

First of all, a very, merry Christmas to you! And happy winter solstice, since that was yesterday.

A lot happened in 2017. A lot in my reading life, that is. A lot in real life too. Here are my top five favorite books I read for the first time this year(in no particular order)...

The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert 

To quote my Goodreads review,

This is incredible. Rosaria Butterfield tells her conversion from practicing lesbian and feminist to Christian homeschool mom in a warm but convicting manner that always pointed me back to the One who grants salvation. 

The Secret Thoughts challenged me in so many ways and there isn't anyone over the age of fifteen who couldn't benefit from it.

Catching Fire

Okay, so clearly The Hunger Games trilogy isn't some big literary masterpiece, but I kind of really liked Catching Fire. As I wrote on Goodreads,

This is so much better than The Hunger Games. The writing is more readable, the characters are more likable and the love triangle-- though still sappy-- is much more engaging and relevant to the rest of the plot. 

I understand that Catching Fire is almost a rehashed version of its predecessor and that Peeta is still way too physically incompetent and Katniss is still rather emotionally incompetent. And I understand the pacing is weird. I even understand this isn't really a literary masterpiece. However it is so engrossing and genius that I loved it. 

This Changes Everything

I had the awesome opportunity to advance read this for free(although I ended up buying a physical copy too!). This is the best Christian-living book(or resource) directed at teens that I've read-- it isn't patronizing but challenging and has become pretty influential in my own life.

This Changes Everything offers nothing original or necessarily mind-blowing besides the simple gospel and its power to transform daily life.

The Schwa Was Here

I read this on a whim thanks to my friend's recommendation and it was probably the most touching and engrossing piece of fiction I tried this year. I don't even know how to describe it except that it's about a middle schooler but if feels more mature than MG and it's really genuine but bizarre and you'll just have to check it out for yourself.


And just for kicks, here are my favorite re-reads of the year:

Emily of New Moon 

Because L. M. Montgomery was genius.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

Possibly the best Harry Potter book? Also just really good in, like, every way.

What were your favorite books you read this year? Have you read any of these? And does anyone want to discuss The Last Jedi with me?

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Jedi: First Impressions[Spoiler Free]

I had the pleasure to see The Last Jedi tonight! Despite my dad and I walking in half an hour early, we only found two seats together in the next-to-front row, so the experience was quite up close and personal.

I came very close to tearing up during the opening crawl. This is one of a couple franchises I could say I grew up with and I guess it's a bit nostalgic.

Anyways, I'm pretty happy with what Rian Johnson has done! Here are a couple thoughts--

1. The plot felt a little cluttered, but moved along nicely.

2. A handful of jokes broke up otherwise-climatic moments and I could have gone without about half of them.

3. Speaking of which, I think this and The Force Awakens have a different, less subtle sense of humor than the originals did. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does stand out as a little incongruous.

4. It was aesthetically stunning.

5.  Rian Johnson introduces some news creatures and ideas to the universe that I really liked.

6. This was likely the most character-driven Star Wars installment, excepting maybe Revenge of the Sith.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend The Last Jedi! It did fall short of what I'd hoped in a few ways, but overall I think this is one of the better films to come out of the Star Wars universe and one I look forward to sharing with my kids someday.

If you've seen The Last Jedi, what did you think? How would it rank with the other episodes?