Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dear 2016

Poor 2016. Nobody really likes it too much. There was terrorism and sad celebrity deaths and an election. The powers of sin continued to wage war, just like they have every other year. Thankfully, God was in control and everything that occurred(the good and bad) worked towards His plan for His kingdom.

And while I mourn the violence and political unrest that shakes the territories of our earthly dwelling, and mourn the death of wonderful actors like Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, in many ways this was actually a great year. There was much to be thankful for among the tragedy and sorrow.

Some lovely 2016 memories:

~meeting a pen-pal after four(we think?) years of communication

~otherwise hanging out with friends, old and new(this is starting to sound like a Christmas letter, whoops)

~learning violin

~roaming Alaskan mountains

~finishing the Anne of Green Gables books

~starting my first job as a piano teacher :D


~finishing Downton Abbey(I plan to devote a post to this exclusive subject soon)

~obtaining a driver's permit

~summer(yes, this is a memory :D)

My Favorite Books of 2016(that weren't re-reads):

~An Old-Fashioned Girl

~Sense & Sensibility

~Rilla of Ingleside

~Bridge to Terebithia

~Don't Waste Your Life

My Favorite Movies of 2016(that weren't re-watches):

~The Walk

~War Horse(amaazing)

~Singing in the Rain

(That's only three, but I'm drawing a blank.)

In conclusion, 2016 was another year in this sinful, broken place, but it will leave good memories all the same. :) Here's to another year!

How was your year? What is one of the best things you did this year? 

A Christmas Carol and Miracle On 34th Street Joint Book Review

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!

I'm reviewing these two books for A Literary Christmas 2016, which I participated in this year.
A Literary Christmas: 2016 Reading Challenge //

Firstly, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: (the review I published on Goodreads)

Challenging but cozy, brief but vast, and classic but fresh.

Though it doesn't directly glorify the one Whom we celebrate on Christmas, the themes of redemption hark back to the gospel and His work on earth.

Possibly my favorite Dickens book.
Image result for A Christmas Carol


And, Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies: (a review I did not publish on Goodreads)

Short and sweet. Not my favorite Christmas story, but an interesting one. The setting and the scenes were entertaining and charming.

Also, it was illustrated by Tomie dePaola which automatically earns it "good points" in my opinion. :)

Perfect for anyone too old for Santa. :D


What are your favorite Christmas books? Have you read either of these? Which is your favorite Christmas Carol adaption? 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"The Man Who Invented Christmas" Book Review

I read and reviewed The Man Who Invented Christmas for The Literary Christmas Challenge.

A Literary Christmas: 2016 Reading Challenge //

Considering the fact that I don't read non-fiction very often and the mediocre Goodreads ratings, it's surprising how well I enjoyed this one.  Les Standiford wrote about the life of Dickens(his financial troubles, his works, his loves), the history of Christmas, and the impact thereon by The Christmas Carol. He could have left out a lot of biographical information, as it distracted from what the subtitle claimed the book covers( "How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits"). However, the 280 fairly short pages of the book didn't accommodate for too much superfluous content.


Also, I was grateful he kept the book fairly clean and tastefully discussed any "mature" content, which was pretty minimal.

Overall, it was an educational book, oftentimes fascinating, and one I would recommend to any interested in The Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, or Christmas in general.

P.S. And, to keep my streak alive, another Christmas song. Skip to 1:00 unless you want to hear a minute of tuning. :)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Shopper Stereotypes

Christmas shopping is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Starting Black Friday and ending sometime before Christmas Day(we hope), it's just the best. And lately I've been thinking about the different types of shoppers and different ones I've been "over the years". So I compiled a list of the sterotypes for you to enjoy. :)

But first, some music, because Downton Abbey is LIFE. Or so I wrote in my journal last night. <3

:D :D

The Schemer- The schemer overthinks. She deliberates over each item, comparing prices and quality. As she scouts the mall departments, she envisions how each present will look wrapped, where she'll place it under the tree, and whether she should put it in a bag, wrap it, or both.

The Saver- The saver loves a good deal. She never spends more than a dozen dollars at a time, and 90% of her gifts were on sale. She revels in getting the most out of a $10 bill and will always find multiple listeners to recount her brilliant savings to. She scoffs gift baskets, because you can find those individual items for cheaper, you know. Conversely, the spender,..

The Spender- The spender pulls into the Target parking lot, orders a 20 oz. venti white chocolate mocha with three shots of expresso at Starbucks, and waltzes down the aisles grabbing whatever looks appealing. She mentally scans her list of gift-receivers and checks out. The cashier announces her total, she swipes her credit card, and orders a peppermint frappucino for the ride home. (No offense to Starbucks fans, I assure you.)

The Stinker- The stinker brings old socks and such presents to white elephant gift exchanges. He wraps his gifts with wedding wrapping paper and otherwise creates general havoc. ;)

The Stresser- Poor Stresser. The holidays are just too much for some.

The "Speeder"- The speeder finishes her shopping before October, stows everything in the closet, and enjoys a relaxing holiday season. Until January, when it's time to start shopping for next year.

The Straggler- On the other hand, the straggler waits till the week leading up till Christmas for shopping. Why do something now that you could do later? Or perhaps, he just wants to prolong the delight that is Christmas shopping. Surely that's why. ;)

Which stereotype are you? Are there any you would add? I'm mostly the saver and a bit of the straggler. :D

Friday, December 16, 2016

Follow Up To Potential Beauty and the Beast Week Post

^^From now till the end of December, I plan to include a Christmas song in each of my posts.

Isn't Christmastime so fun? We've been shopping, playing Pentatonix, eating festive foods, and today I trudged in my imitation Uggs around the snowy neighborhood with my little sisters and dog. <3

One huge plus of Christmas break is reading time. I read for 5+ hours yesterday. ^.^

A little while ago I mentioned a Beauty and the Beast week and opened a poll to evaluate interest. That poll is still open if you haven't voted yet! *nods towards right sidebar*

A few of you suggested I do it near the time the new Disney movie comes out in March, which I thought was a good idea. I'm thinking either the 12th-18th, in which case it would lead up to the movie's release on Friday or  the 18th-24th, the following week. I could also start in the middle of the week, but that might be a little weird.

So, anyways, I'll start working on it now, and when it gets nearer March I'll announce the dates. For now, do you think it should be the week leading up to the movie's release, the week following, or something different altogether? I know it's thinking pretty far ahead, but if you have thoughts at this point, I'd love to hear them. :)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Literary Christmas Reading Plans

Hello, all! 

I have officially begun my Christmas break which means I will finally post this, I will hopefully post more frequently until New Year's, and my blog looks all winter-y.

So, first things first. I will begin "the Christmas break posts" with my reading list for Tarissa's Literary Christmas Challenge!

A Literary Christmas: 2016 Reading Challenge //

If  you're interested, click the button to learn how to participate. 

Here are the books I plan to read: 

~Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies 

I didn't even know this was a book until recently. Apparently it was published a little before the movie, which seems unusual, but we'll see what it's like! 

And it's illustrated by Tomie DePaola which is a huge plus. 

~The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford

This one only has a so-so average rating on Goodreads, but it looks intriguing. I may not finish it, we'll see...

And maybe...

~The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Because re-reads equal the best reads. 

Are there any Christmas-y books you're reading this year? 

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Would You Say To a Beauty and the Beast Week?

I'm considering hosting a Beauty and the Beast blog party sometime in January, but first I'd like to find out if I'd have any participants. :)

The topic would extend to the Disney cartoon, the upcoming live-action film, the re-tellings, etc. There'd be a tag and a game and themed-posts.

Anyone would be welcome to participate even if you've only seen the movie or you don't usually read my blog. I'd just ask that you keep any related posts to PG, for obvious reasons. :)  

I have a poll on the right sidebar that you could answer if you'd be so kind. :) So what say you? Are you interested??

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lord of the Rings Book Review

**I'm reviewing this marvelous epic for the Re-Reading Challenge.**

Like, how even. It's impossible to properly review something of this magnitude within the space and time I usually allot myself. So I'll do something different instead and just list my three favorite things about the trilogy then call it good.

3. The Coziness/Nostalgism 

I don't know what it is about Lord of the Rings. There's just something incredibly cozy and familiar about the writing style, the dialogue, and the world-building. It just feels so right.

2. The Characters

They're funny, they're lovable, they're epic, they're unique, they're perfectly developed. Even the villains are impressive.

And the couples make me happy. Farawyn=yess.

1. The Themes

I loove all the themes. Good vs. Evil, Sacrifice, Friendship.

What are your favorite things about Lord of the Rings

Christmas Lightsss(and other such Holiday reflections)

Ahhh, so one of my favorite things right now is Christmas lights. And when my awesome grandparents visited for Thanksgiving I recruited their help to install some in my bedroom. It's soo easy, but so beautiful. All you need is a string(20+ ft. is preferable) of lights and some small Command hooks. 

 I decided to share the pictures here because it seemed like the sort of thing I should post about. 

So, what are you looking forward to most about Christmas? The break from school? The music? The food? The presents? The movies? 

I share the closet with three sisters, so all the dresses aren't mine. However, most of the books are. :) 

 My Christmas break plans consist of reading lotttsss of books, re-watching Downton Abbey Season 2(*sigh*), and practicing violin till my finger pads wear off. Oh, and spending time with family of course.
featuring the lovely Audrey Hepburn picture from Olivia's My Fair Lady Giveaway
Does anyone else struggle with keeping the Christmas season focused on Christ? It's difficult with commercialism and stress and my distracting lights, but it's what's most important, right? 


One thing about harnessing my thoughts towards Christ is realizing I can savor the joy of Christmas all year. There's always that let-down in January after you've opened all your presents and finished all the cookies, but realizing that the amazing gift of salvation is something I can be grateful for all year helps. 

Are you one of those people who starts celebrating really early or do you wait till after Thanksgiving? 

Do you love or hate Christmas shopping?

*inserts random(and absolutely necessary) picture of dog*

Do you have any plans for Christmas break?

so proud of my collage :) 
So grateful for my family to celebrate Christmas with and Amazon to easily order presents. And wrapping paper. Very thankful for wrapping paper. :)

On the right, the talented and very-photogenic Audrey Hepburn, on the left the awkward and very-not-photogenic Me. ;) 

 Happy Christmas season, everyone!

Well that was a different sort of post. :) Usually I would ask questions, but I've given so many already that you can just answer those. :) Unless you have any questions for me? *raises eyebrows expectantly* 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"The Gold-Bug & Other Tales" Book Review

A little late(though not unusually so) for my November Classic review. I read a few stories for school from a slim Edgar Allan Poe collection and it bothered me to have unread material just sitting on my shelves, so I chose it for the "classic by a male author" November cateogry.

But first, a happy, Christmas-y video to offset the dreary nature of this book:

Overall, I think I benefited from immersing in the grave style of Mr. Poe and stretching my horizons(you usually don't find me curled up with a work Gothic Horror literature).

Here are my analyses of each story:

Ligeia-- Not my favorite. Too fantastical and strange.

The Fall of the House of Usher-- Okaaaay, this one was creepy. Again, not my favorite but better than Ligeia.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue-- The beginning was unfocused, but the story was clever. Pretty gruesome, but this is Poe, so what did I expect?

The Masque of Red Death-- I didn't really "get it" at first until I read the Cliff's Notes analysis(shhh) and then the impressiveness of it struck me. Wow.

The Pit and the Pendulum(re-read)-- Fantastic. This may have moved me the most and just, wow. It is so good.

The Tell-Tale Heart(re-read)-- Interesting, insightful, depressing.

The Gold Bug--  Drawn out and honestly not that impressive. Rather overrated if you ask me(which of course you didn't). (Disclaimer: contains four or five instances of a nasty word)

The Black Cat-- Ugh, it was awful and depressing and skillful at once. Not something particularly enjoyable but not unedifying either.

The Cask of Amontillado-- Didn't follow this one; a re-read might help. I fell asleep.

Poe explores the effects of sin and fear fluently and terrifyingly. These insights coupled with his beautiful writing style make some of these stories gems.  My favorites are The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of Red Death, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue in that order.

What do you think of Edgar Allan Poe? 

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Scarlet Pimpernel Book Review(Short)

I read this book for The Monthly Classics Challenge because so many people I know/follow-on-the-internet had read and loved it.

It was a good book. Sir Percy was brilliant, and the ending blew my mind.

Sadly, I'd expected a different layout than what I found. For whatever reason, I'd envisioned little episode-styled plots and then one big culminating "bang" at the end. In reality, it was one long thread of narrative that pretty much started on page 30-something and didn't stop till page-the-last. The story lagged, started, and then rushed with no time to breathe and no mini-resolutions into a startling halt.

Once again my strange expectations get in the way of enjoying a good book.

The book was inventive and light and I really like the twist on a classic romance format where a married, distant couple comes to love each other over the course of the book.

I think I'll enjoy it much better as a re-read.

Have you read The Scarlet Pimpernel? What did you think? 

What Sort of Posts Would You Like To See Around Here?

The title, says it all: what things do you want to read when you're here?

I 'm very behind on book reviews, so you'll probably(hopefully) see a bunch of those come through before the end of the year, but I'd like to write posts of other varieties as well.

Sometimes I write book-themed lists, sometimes, I write little life-updates, sometimes I publish guest posts, and sometimes I write meditative(for lack of a better word) reflections. What do you like? Do you prefer my writings to stick with a book/movie/tv show theme, or do you prefer less nerdy things on occasion? Anything new I should try?

 Public Domain Images – Clouds Sky Mountain Blue

Oh, and in that vein, I realize I am quite behind on blog tags, so add that to the list of what you should see coming in torrents soon. In fact, if you've tagged me for something I haven't filled out yet, would you be willing to leave the link in the comments? Much obliged. ;)


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Explaining(i.e. Excusing) My Absence

So you may have noticed that I've been a little hard to find lately. :) Sorry about that.

It comes down to school, a broken computer, procrastination, and general busyness.

But I will start replying to comments soon-- excepting the spam one about a dating website; I think I'll stay single for a few more years, thank you. :D

And I need to catch up on tags and book reviews and general posts. Hopefully soon.

For now please know that I do mean to reply to your comment and start posting again, for better or for worse. ;)

Have a nice week!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cheerfulness Vs. Authenticity

(very cheesy-- just as a warning ;D)

I want to be a cheerful person.

 Like Lily James's Cinderella who can shake off adversity and "have courage and be kind".

I want to be like Lady Rose from Downton Abbey whose parents were un-ideal and whose father-in-law was often unkind, and whose first fiance was basically forced into rejecting her because of unfortunate societal standards and who smiled despite of it.

I want to be like Beth from Little Women and Sam from Lord of the Rings and Cos from Singing in the Rain. Like Jane from Pride and Prejudice and Cosette from Les Miserables.

I want to be a blogger who posts happy things and talks unceasingly about the awesome parts of my life.

Like the smiling people who can laugh at tribulations and rave about their blessings.  

I also want to be authentic. 

I don't want to hide behind a crusty mask of cheerfulness. I don't want you to think that I live the life of a movie star. 

The truth is that I am an incredibly blessed person. Blessed to be a Christian, blessed to live in a Christian home, blessed to experience religious freedom, blessed with daily provisions, blessed with friends, blessed with internet, blessed with this blog, blessed with the people I've met through Blogger, blessed with access to all 6 Downton Abbey seasons, blessed with a dog, and blessed with bookshelves full of books to consume. 

But that doesn't mean I don't have struggles in my life. Many of them are self-induced, some of them aren't. They'd all probably be more bearable with a cheerful attitude. 

So where do I draw the line? Where do I find a distinction between "grumbling and complaining", which is condemned in the Bible, and being cheerful to the point of dishonesty? 

I don't want my readers to think that I live in a Jell-O castle with some "bad things"-proof fence around it. 

Maybe the answer requires the motives of cheerfulness or so-called "authenticity". Why do I write/act cheerfully? 

Is it due to the joy of the gospel which shines through me? Is it because I want you to like me? Is it because I want you to follow my blog? Is it because I want to make myself happier?  

The trouble is that I think the answer is more "yes" to the three last questions than to first. 

Why might I want to be "authentic" on my blog(or in real life, for that matter)? 

Is it because I want to preserve honesty or not make people unduly jealous? Or is it because I want people to feel sorry for me and "know the things I suffer"? Or because I think being authentic will elevate me to a new level of spirituality and relevancy? 

I don't know. I think I have mixed motives. Unpure motives for a not wholly bad thing. 

Hmmm. *insert awkward pause for me to collect my thoughts* I'm going to try to still be cheerful, I think, but I don't want you to think I live in some sort of protected, super-life. None of us do. 

Maybe I should end this jumble like so: 

Don't think my life is perfect just because I  try to avoid complaining. In my life too, there are things that sometimes compromise my smile; circumstances that can aggravate good spirits; frustrations to cry over in the shower. 

But I am a hugely blessed individual and while I can reflect the grace of God in cheerfulness and make this blog a happier place, I think I will. 

So what do you think, readers? Where do you "draw the line"? Do you think it's possible to be both cheerful and authentic? 

Sorry...that was cheesy, I know. But can we take a moment to appreciate that I got through a whole post without mentioning politics? :D 

It's A Wonderful Life Movie Review

Warning: Includes Mild Spoilers

Ahhhh, I love this movie so much. I've seen it 9 or 10 times and likely will sit through a few dozen more watches before I die. So again, this will be a very biased review. But I also mean to persuade you in its favor in case you haven't yet had the good fortune to watch this movie.

George Bailey is your typical, big idea-driven character who's stuck in a small, traditional community. He's also an all-around lovable guy and played by Jimmy Stewart who is perfect. We even named our dog "Bailey" after him. But I digress.

He has big ideas, and he has big plans, but circumstances and a woman named Mary keep him from ever launching into his dream big world.

He eventually marries, settles down, and has four children. One beautiful aspect of the story is his positive influence on everyone he meets. He may be one of the most important people in the town, but he's too humble to realize it.

The plot comes to its crux when, due to a banking accident, George considers taking his own life. This triggers an emotionally powerful but subtly humorous sequence in which an unconventional angel descends from Heaven to help him.

The WWII historical references and the funny situational side comedies add an old fashioned feel which complements the music and B&W so nicely.

 Another virtue of this movie is its hilarious characters. They're just so funny. And quirky, and real, and this movie is just the best, okay?

Moral of this Review: Watch It's A Wonderful Life this Christmas. You may not love it as much as I do, but give it a try; there's a very good chance it could become your new favorite Christmas movie. :D

Have you seen It's A Wonderful Life? Isn't it the best? Don't be afraid to answer if you didn't like it-- I won't bite. :) 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

3 Reasons To Watch The Wizard of Oz(1939)

Well, it's the last day of Rose's Classic Hollywood party and I am finally getting around to those reviews! Whew, and I thought I wasn't a procrastinator. I'll be posting a review of It's A Wonderful Life later today, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Image result for the wizard of oz
Before I begin, a small disclaimer: this was my favorite movie as a four or five year-old, so I'm rather biased towards it. You very well may not enjoy it half as much as I did. :D

Or perhaps you will! In fact, I am here to convince you that you will or that at least you should give this movie a try.

And, as a writer unskilled at nice paragraphed reviews, we're using a list format today. :) Without further ado, three reasons to watch The Wizard of Oz:

1). Its Vintage Feel

The Wizard of Oz was based off L. Frank Baum's book of the same name. (I was also a big fan of the book) In 1939 when it was released, the movie met popularity and has been a favorite since. Yada yada.

What I love is it's old, vintage-y feel. You get to see young Judy Garland and maybe pick up on a few references which had previously gone over your head. Although to some the story or acting are boring, watch it for the vinatge-y stuff. :)

 Image result for the wizard of oz

2). The Music

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue...

There was a point in my childhood when not only did I have most of the book memorized, but most of the musical numbers. They're rather catchy and will likely stick in your head. Apologies from me in advance. ;)
Image result for the wizard of oz

3). The Story

There's something magical about the story. Maybe I just say that because of its nostalgic associations for me, but I think even first-time viewers could agree.

Well, that was my sort-of review. I'm sorry it was so jumbled together. XD

Have you seen The Wizard of Oz? What are your thoughts? Do tell! 
Image result for the wizard of oz