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?