Wednesday, August 19, 2015

As Enchanting as Harry Potter?

Recently on Facebook, I found this article about 15 Book as Enchanting as Harry Potter. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to see which books they suggested. It was a good post and I wanted to share my thoughts. I've read some of the books on their list and I am going to share with you my opinions on said books and if they are as enchanting as Harry Potter as they claim.

For the record, nothing is as enchanting as Harry Potter, so let's just get that straight.

Just reference this very accurate meme.

I'll never get over you Harry Potter!

The first book they mentioned, I was so excited they put on the list because it is one of my all time favorites. I'm talking, Harry Potter is first, this one comes in a very close second.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book -THIS BOOK- is so beautiful and lovely and enchanting and magical. This book gets me. Seriously, I read this book and in my head I'm all "YES. This is me."

But I do know it's a very different writing style and it's not everyone's cup of tea. But if you do read it, and you don't like it, just lie to me and say you did. That way I won't cry.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

In just that last few years I've become a fan of Gaiman. I wish I had started reading his books sooner because they are so wonderful and fantastic! However, American Gods is not the book I would have picked for this topic. Don't get me wrong - it's a great book! (In fact, I've heard rumors of it becoming a TV series.) I really enjoyed it. The books I'd pick for this topic though by him would have been Neverwhere (my fave), Stardust (so enchanting and quirky!), or The Graveyard Book (one of his middle grade books, but so wonderful!).

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis

Now, it's been awhile since I've read the entirety of The Chronicles of Narnia. But The Horse and His Boy? Really? From what I remember, this was my least favorite out of the series. So, let's just put all of The Chronicles of Narnia on this list, okay?

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

A classic! Granted, most people just know the movie, which is just fine because it's amazing and brilliant and hilarious. But the book is awesome too.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

I'm really glad this author is getting a shoutout! I really enjoyed this trilogy, and in fact, it's one of my sister's all time favorites. It's interesting, and dark, there's magic, and a girls boarding school. The same author is also working on a new series called The Diviners and the second comes out later this fall.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Okay, I haven't actually read this book yet. But I've heard nothing but good things and if you are a gamer this is the book for you.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This book - THIS BOOK YOU GUYS - is SO SO GOOD! This is one of my all time favorites by this author. I could read it over and over again.

It's the perfect book for the recovering Harry Potter fan. Or the fan who will never let go. Like myself. Or for people who live on the Internet and don't know how to interact with real humans. THIS BOOK UNDERSTANDS US. It's cute, funny, awkward, romantic, and touching. Also, Rainbow Rowell is coming out with a new book Carry On which is the fanfic the main character (Cath) in this book wrote. How awesome is that?

Also - were you a Draco/Harry shipper back in the day? Your time has come!

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Okay... another one I haven't actually read yet. But it's on my shelf and I plan on reading it soon! Also, I've heard it's awesome. Even people who typically don't enjoy mysteries have liked this book. So, I'm really excited to read it and see how the queen (JK Rowling) does in this other genre.

Some others I'd add to the list:

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

I discovered it just in the past year and it's ruined my life in the best way possible and the fourth book is being released September 1. I want time to go faster so I can read it. I also tell people, while the first book is good, the others are even better. So, if the first one isn't your all time favorite, just keep going.

Also, I might have a girl crush on the main character Celeana Sardothian. There - I SAID IT.

The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N Holmberg

I also discovered this trilogy in the past year and fell in love! It's magical, there's a school, romance, scandal, adventure, and no love triangles. What more could you want in a trilogy?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Urban fantasy at it's finest. Friends of mine who knew how much I loved fantasy recommended this series and I'm so glad they did! If you haven't read this series yet, get on it right now.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

It's retellings of fairytales in a futuristic dystopian society. But instead of Hunger Games or Divergent, think more Firefly. The final book is being released in November and I'm outrageously excited.

What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these books? Have you read the others on the list that I haven't? How do you think they stand up for us Harry Potter addicts who want more? Are there others you'd recommend?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

An Apology to Old Friends

I've been noticing a trend in my Timehop app lately. As I scroll down through the years I notice the ones from my early years of Facebook. Do you remember those days? When we would actually write on one another's walls and have conversations that way? Not using Facebook messenger or tagging them. Actually writing on someones wall outside of the yearly "Happy Birthday!" message. Those early posts are filled with messages and notes and conversations from my college friends. About how we can't wait for the semester to start so we could see each other again or what we've been up to over the summer or making plans for the Weeks of Welcome staff. It's been making me nostalgic for my college friends.

On top of that, one of the college friends I have kept in touch with just moved away. It all came about quickly so I didn't have much time to process before she actually left. She'll be back in a few weeks for a wedding, but the fact remains, she and her husband won't be living here in Chicago anymore.

The same day she moved, some of my other college friends were in town. Originally, they were going to be at church with us, but then plans changed.

This made me realize what a terrible job of keeping in touch with people I've done in the years since graduating college.

I think of the core group of people I spent my time with and how important they were to me. We went to one another's weddings and drove across country to go, and texted and Facebooked, and back in the day AIM was our life saver during the summers. I swore we all would be friends for the rest of our lives and see each other all of the time after graduation.

But that hasn't happened.

I see people's Facebook updates and others whom I was friends with and how their lives have changed. People who seem to have similar situations as me where they left ministry or have had some of the same struggles with our Synod. I wish I had gone to them for support. While the end result may have been the same, at least I would have known I wasn't alone.

All of this is part of life and growing up and being an adult. We lose touch with some friends and we make new ones. I love the new friends I've made since graduating. But I notice how I've lost touch with those in Missouri as well, and I haven't been gone all that long.

Even the people who are here in Chicago, I notice I haven't been the greatest of friend to them since I've moved back. Yes, we see one another and all of that, or we go to church together every week, or hang out time to time, but I know I can do a much better job.

It makes me miss the girl from my Concordia days. Don't get me wrong, I love how I've grown and changed. I make more of an effort to be who God made me to be and not what others might think I should be. I love the group of online friends I've made through blogging and YouTube and the experiences I've had. There are a lot of ways I'm glad I'm not the girl I once was.

At the same time, she was much more dedicated to the people in her life. She made more of an effort. She had fun and didn't crawl into a hole as often or get anxious about social situations the way I do sometimes.

So, this is my apology to my friends of the past. Those from high school and college and Missouri with whom I've let go of. I'm sorry. I want to do better, and I don't know how I'll do better. But I want to. Please don't take my lack of keeping in touch as a lack of caring - because I do care.

Have other people noticed this as they've gotten older? How do you balance maturing and having new experiences, but still valuing the people from the past? How do you make time for people and keeping in touch? Do you ever feel like some of the ways you've changed aren't the best?

I'm also sorry I couldn't post pictures of everyone. Womp womp.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Speak Up! Restoration

It's Speak Up Link Up time again! This moth we're talking about restoration.

Don't forget to link up and watch the other videos!

Have a happy weekend!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Problem with Christian Pop Culture

Last year, I read the book AD 30 by Ted Dekker for a book review.  I loved it! Then, a couple months ago I was emailed about reviewing the sequel which is coming out later this year, as well as the novella version of AD 30 in anticipation of it. Since I had loved the original so much, naturally, I said yes.

Although, in my head it was more like...

They sent me the ebook version of the novella right away so I could get to reading.

Released August 4, 2015

I'm going to be completely honest ... I'm so disappointed.

What I love about Ted Dekker is he's a Christian writer, but he's not like a Christian writer. You know, full of thin plots and characters with a bit of Jesus thrown in. He writes. I mean, really writes. His stories are full of intrigue and action, his characters have depth, and his discussions on faith are deep and intense, but done in a way which isn't preachy. 

The abridged version of AD 30 took away all of that. I couldn't even get 25% of the way through it. The story was stripped down to it's bare bones and dumbed down.

I'm sure the purpose was to get hype for the next book and to get a shorter version so people weren't so intimidated by how big the book was. But that didn't need to happen. Yes, I understand big books can be intimidating. But do you know what else is a big book?

Game of Thrones. 

Have people stopped reading that?


Harry Potter.

Have people stopped reading those?


Lord of the Rings.

And wait... people are still reading those too!

Outlander anyone...?

Granted, these are all fantasy. But still. People are willing to read big books as long as they're good.

I feel like this happens over and over in Christian pop culture. Our movies, books, music, etc. Something can be truly great, but then it gets watered down "for the masses" and to become "more appealing" when it doesn't need to be. AD 30 is an amazing book, and I truly feel even people who aren't Christian would enjoy it because it's a good story. Because Ted Dekker is an awesome writer. 

I am excited for the sequel, AD 33. It's going to be awesome because the original book was awesome. Don't worry about the abridged, just read the original. 

Basically, if it's not broke, don't fix it.