10.31.2014

This Girl Pins #3

I had a lot of fun putting this week's picks together.  It ended up coming out very autumnal, which makes me pretty happy.  Let's get to it, shall we?

1.) This quote is from the song by Hillsong called "Oceans" which I love and this is just so pretty.  The quote reminds me of being brave.

2.) This picture reminds me of hobbits or something, and I love anything C.S Lewis says.

3.) Fall, you'll always be my favorite.

4.) I honestly think I actually laughed when I read this.  Mr. Carson is one of my very favorite people in Downton Abbey, and I can't believe how much the actor and the character seem alike.

5.) Ahh, this picture.  It reminds me of an old bookstore in Ft. Wayne that always seems like it's just bursting at the seams with books.  I could probably spend all day there.  Easily.

6.) Oh my goodness, yes!  I probably want to do this in every book I read.  What comes to mind though, is the book "A Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James.  It was a required read for school.  I got so frustrated with the main character.  Ugh.  Moving on...

7.) I love this verse so much and have a major thing for pretty letters.  It's also a printable – yay!

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite pins of late!  Happy weekend!  xo, Ella

10.29.2014

Mini Book Review: Let's All Be Brave


Title: Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have

Author: Annie F. Downs

Publisher/Price: Zondervan / $10.11 here

Type: Nonfiction

Genre: Christian Inspiration

Number of pages: 208

My rating: 5 1/2 out of 5 stars (favorite!)

My thoughts: I read this book beginning to end on Labor Day, stretched out on the boat at the lake, laughing and crying my way through.  I walked into Barnes & Noble the last week of August looking for a particular book I had heard about and wanted to read and review it for the blog.  When I couldn't find it, Let's All Be Brave caught my eye.  Besides seeing lots of tweets on Twitter about it, I really wasn't interested.  I've never thought of myself as either brave or not – somewhere in the middle, I guess.  But I got it, partly because I just wanted to get something, and partly because I really needed something to review.  That was a God thing.  To get a rating of 10, a book has to change the way I think about things.  That's why Let's All Be Brave is a 10.  Annie Downs is incredibly real, incredibly funny, incredibly in-tune with God.  She says that bravery is doing the next thing God has for you, whether it scares you out of your wits or not.  That He has made us to be brave, to embrace His vision for our lives with trust and bravery.  Whether we fall or succeed, He is there; He wants us to take the leap of faith and follow His lead.  I'll never think the same way about things God asks me to do, never think the same way about my dreams.  This book will inspire you to be brave about your life, trust God even when what He wants seems crazy, and relentlessly follow the dreams He has given you.  This book touched me in a big way; whether you are lacking in God-given courage or think you're just fine, you need to read this book.  God is doing great, big things through Annie Downs – she is a testament to a brave heart in the hands of her Maker.  xo, Ella

10.27.2014

Mini Book Review: Hobbit Lessons


Title: Hobbit Lessons: A Map for Life's Unexpected Journeys

Author: Devin Brown

Publisher/Price: Abingdon Press/$8.99 here

Type: Nonfiction

Genre: Christianity & Culture/Literary Criticism

Number of pages: 144

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My thoughts: This is the second book I've reviewed here now about LOTR/The Hobbit.  The two can't really be compared though because they are so vastly different.  The other one, A Hobbit Journey, was almost twice as long as this one, and not an extremely fun read.  On the other hand, this is a short book that is a ton of fun to read.  With illustrations throughout, the author points out the wisdom of Tolkien's work in a way that is practical, relevant, and very inspiring.  Drawing from Tolkien's religious background, he weaves Scripture through his lessons of Hobbit-sized sense and the deeper wisdom of Gandalf and others.  I really enjoyed it.  It was pleasantly brief, but managed to deepen my understanding of LOTR and The Hobbit in a way that was both significant and practical.  Unlike A Hobbit Journey, which is completely serious and scholarly, Hobbit Lessons is upbeat with a wittiness that seems right at home with the author's goodnatured exploration of the wisdom of Tolkien's world.  Because they offer such a good summary of the book itself, here are the titles of the chapters: "When Adventure Comes Knocking, Let It In (Despite The Fact It May Make You Late For Dinner)," "Have Your Friends' Backs (Someone Has Yours),"Be Fond of Waistcoats, Pocket Handkerchiefs, and even Arkenstones (Just Don't Let Them Become Too Precious),"Remember Not All That Is Gold Glitters (In Fact, Life's Real Treasures Are Quite Ordinary Looking)," "Recognize You Are Only a Little Fellow in a Wide World (But Still an Important Part of a Larger Story)," "Find The Enchantment All Around You (Even If You Are Not a Wizard)"

I really enjoyed this book, and if you're a Tolkien fan, but don't want to go super deep into the theology, this is the book for you.  It's a lot of fun and very practical for anyone at any stage of life.  

10.24.2014

This Girl Likes #3

Hello, hello!  Back for another installment of "This Girl Likes" today.  It's gonna be brief, because I'm running out of time to write it, but at least I tried.

  • I've been listening to the Relevant Podcast (an offshoot from Relevant Magazine) and as a result discovered this supercool thing they have on their site called The Drop.  Anyone can stream music from it – includes genres from Worship to Pop – and subscribers to the magazine can download the music.  I've already discovered some new favorites.
  • This book looks soooo good.  I've heard good things about Karen Swallow Prior, but any book that is endorsed by Eric Metaxas automatically goes on my "to read" list.  Check out the "trailer" on Youtube.
  • Came across a good quote from Teddy Roosevelt (one of my new favorite people) this week and it really made me stop and think.  

“The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teaching were removed.” – Theodore Roosevelt

  • Love this quote a lot.  



  •  And last but not least, PUMPKIN!  Been looking for pumpkin candles this week and counting down the days until I can get my hands on another Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Why do reviewers of candles on Anthropologie have to make them sound so amazing!?
Hope you enjoyed this ramble through what's caught my eye lately!  xo, Ella

10.22.2014

Currently Reading and Loving

Sorry about the quality – iPhone picture!

Once again, I can sense my inner nerd threatening to bubble up and flow from my typing fingers onto the white space I'm staring at.  Oh well, it can't stay pent up forever.  I am in love with a book, or at least in like, whether that's possible with inanimate objects, I know not.  In the last month and a half or so, I have found three historical nonfiction books that I am absolutely loving.  One of those I plan to review next month; the other I hope to finish before 2015 – it's like 3 inches thick.  I'll keep those under wraps until I'm ready to review them.  The one I'm talking about today, though, I just couldn't keep to myself any longer.  I got a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday last month, and I bought this book with it.  I had seen it on Goodreads, but I just grabbed it at the last minute and I'm so glad I did.  I do plan to review it in November, and I'm not done with it, so I won't reveal too many details, but it's sooooo good!  It reads like a novel without sounding any less reliable or accurate, and the best part is that it's all true.  I encourage you to check out Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy if you are a history nerd like me or just want a good nonfiction book.  I'm super excited to review it!

10.18.2014

Recently Read // October


So.  I have been reading a lot lately.  The library has been raided and I've got some new favorite authors and books to share.  Obviously, it would take this girl way too much time to review each of these on its own, so I decided to do a "book dump" (where do I come up with these things?) where I basically show the books I've been enjoying and write a little blurb about why I like each one.  

You may have noticed that four of these are written by the same author – Rhys Bowen.  I discovered her when I ran into the library a couple weeks ago.  The middle book on the left side was on the "New Arrivals" shelf, and I decided to give it a go.  Thus, I discovered Rhys Bowen.  She won an Agatha Christie award or something for one of her series, so that's pretty neat.  She has three series that I know of: the Molly Murphy Mysteries, the Royal Spyness Mysteries, and the Constable Evans Series.  I've only read books from the Molly Murphy Mysteries, but you'd better believe I want to read the others.  The genre of the MM Series is Historical Mystery.  While they aren't the best books I've ever read – the prose wasn't amazing and some elements came off slightly unbelievable at times – they are the kind of stories that won't stop screaming your name from your bedroom when you're trying to do school.  I found that they are best read in one sitting.  Preferably with a cup of tea.  The main character, Molly Murphy, a private investigator from Ireland living in New York City, is the classic example of a woman trying to make her way in a man's profession, let alone a man's world.  The books are meant to be read in order, but I kind of just grabbed whichever ones I could find, so you don't have to read them in order, though that would be best.  Okay, enough gabbing, let's get to the books.  I'm not reviewing these in full, so I'll link to the book's Amazon description and page on Goodreads.

In Dublin's Fair City – The sixth book in the Molly Murphy Series, In Dublin's Fair City is by far the most personal of the four books I read from this series.  I probably enjoyed this one the least of the four I read, just because I found some things a little unbelievable and I found the romance bit slightly forced, but I still liked it and managed to finish it in a day.  Oops.  This isn't supposed to be a full review, so I'm not going into details, but here are the links to the description on Amazon and the Goodreads page for the book.  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 8

For the Love of Mike – This is the third book in the MM Series.  I liked this one a lot because it had many layers – lots of stuff going on.  That always makes a book more appealing to me.  This one had a lot of history woven into it, which always makes me happy.  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 8

The Baker Street Translation – I loved this book!  Since I am a ridiculous fan of Sherlock Holmes, this story about a lawyer who sets up shop in the rooms of the deceased detective made me so happy.  The author had fun with the Sherlock thing, but also made the story feel fresh.  This book is part of a series; I can't wait to get my hands on the others!  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 9

The City of Darkness and Light – As the 13th book in the MM Series, this one finds Molly married and with a son.  Yes, it's a good idea to read them in order. It takes place in Paris and Molly's good friends Gus and Sid (girls) play a big part in the story.  This was probably my favorite out of the four I've read from the series.  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 9

N or M – Before The Body in the Library, which I read before this one, I had only read one Christie book, and these two reminded me how good her mysteries are.  This one is a Tommy and Tuppence mystery and they are pretty much the cutest couple ever.  I can't even.  They are hilarious.  I liked this book a lot and only guessed the culprit because he/she was the most seemingly-innocent person.  I'm onto you, Agatha Christie.  :)  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 9

The Body in the Library – In this book, I met the awesome Miss Marple for the first time.  She is just mind-blowing.  I enjoyed her a lot and now I want to watch her BBC series on Netflix.  Anyway, I liked this book a lot, though I probably preferred the plot of N or M a little more.  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 9

Tell Me, Pretty Maiden – The seventh book in the MM Series, Tell Me, Pretty Maiden was a lot of fun.  Molly gets her long-time beau, Daniel Sullivan, the wrongly-suspended police captain, to help her out when she gets swamped with cases and somehow they manage to sort them all out.  I really enjoyed this one.  Amazon / Goodreads  My rating: 9

I hope you enjoyed snooping through the books I've read recently.  I would recommend them all if you are a mystery-lover like me or just looking for something new to read.  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella

10.08.2014

Mini Book Review: The Great Divorce


Title: The Great Divorce

Author: C.S. Lewis

Publisher/Price: HarperOne / $7.90 here

Type: Fiction

Genre: Religious Allegory

Number of pages: 160

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My thoughts: I really liked this book.  The Great Divorce was actually written after a dream Lewis had.  Basically, it's a book about heaven and hell (mostly heaven) in which those in heaven try to convince those in hell to accept God's invitation to come to heaven.  I don't think Lewis wrote this book with the intention that its readers would interpret it as the authority on how heaven works and how people get there – that's not the point.  The point of this book is to explain in depth many of the reasons people "miss" heaven, whether because they think they are good, etc.  The Great Divorce is for the deep thinker who doesn't mind reading things twice over to understand what the author means.  I loved it because it was incredibly thought-provoking.  When I finished it, I was blown away by how Lewis made me think about heaven in such different ways.  I would recommend it to any dedicated reader of C.S. Lewis or anyone interested in learning more about heaven.  Fantastic read!

10.07.2014

Odd One Out // This Girl Writes

Every so often, I get seized with the desire to write.  Often it comes when I'm reading my daily assignment for history and an idea pops into my head.  This is gonna sound like another #homeschoolerconfession, but being one who loves writing, and stories, and all that stuff, I get like random popups in my brain when I read history.  This is going to sound weird, but story openers and sentences will just pop into my head.  Usually, I have heart palpitations and stop breathing for a few moments because I amaze myself, but I brush the promptings away and keep reading.  When I had one the other day, though, I decided to pull up a blank document and let it out.  It felt so good.  I drummed on for a few minutes, and then stopped when I started grasping for straws.  So whenever I'm inspired to follow instinct and put my ideas to paper, I'll share them here if they are worth anything.  I hope you enjoy this first installment.  Sorry for the lame title; I didn't really want to think about it.  (Do you ever type in a British accent?  'Cause that just happened)

They were at it again.  The piano thumped out the catchy tune of the wartime song in the background, but the girl slumped on the sofa, chin in hand, barely noticed.  The rollicking music swirled into the room, trying to get into her head and lift her spirits, but she refused to let it in.   The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming.  She hated that verse.  Forcing herself from the nest in the faded tweed, she wandered toward the clamorous voices.  If she hid forever, there would be questions.  Painful questions better left unspoken. They hardly noticed when she walked in.  Crowded around the instrument, jostling back and forth with unconcealed pleasure, she could see that her intrusion would be unwelcome.  So she stayed in the doorway, leaning against the frame until the song finished with a roar of laughter and clapping.  She was the odd one out.

I may be inspired to continue this, or just leave it for your interpretation.  xo, Ella

10.06.2014

Update

Tap, tap... Is this thing on?  It's been a while.  I won't go into the details, but I haven't forgotten about this corner of the web.  Since I kinda skipped a whole month of book reviews, I decided I needed to explain what I'm going to do to get caught up.  For the three books I read last month, I've decided to do mini-reviews; I'll highlight the best parts and say the main reasons why I liked the book.  Then next month, I'll be back on track with new reads.

I also wanted to say that I have revived the writing bug in me, and so from time to time, when I bang out something halfway good, I'll share it here.  Sometimes it may be super short, other times, a little longer.  I'm excited.

Thanks for reading this largely uninteresting post.  Posting will hopefully return to its normal consistency henceforth.  xo, Ella