3.23.2015

Book Review: Live Like a Narnian

I am here today to share my last book review for this month.  I apologize in advance for the lapse in posting this week – I will be out of town for spring break and didn't have time with work and everything to get this week's posts scheduled in advance.  So, I apologize, and now, let's get into the book! 
Title: Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis's Chronicles

Author: Joe Rigney 

Publisher/Price: Eyes & Pen Press / $10.63 here

Type: Nonfiction
Genre: Christian Living
Number of pages: 184
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Overview: The purpose of Rigney's little book is to show throughout the Chronicles of Narnia, that Lewis's Christian worldview and principles were alive and well, and his practical observations help the reader apply these things to their lives.  This book is for the advanced Narnian – those who have loved the world of Aslan from their childhood and want to dig deeper into the stories.  The book is perfectly formatted, a couple chapters devoted to each of Lewis's chronicles.  From digging into Deep Magic, seeing the manliness of King Lune, and being awed by the beauty of Aslan, this book is the ultimate companion for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the Lion's world.  

My thoughts: I loved this book.  It was a delight to read.  I have been a devoted fan of Narnia ever since I first listened to the audiobook when I was little.  As I've grown up, that love has continued to grow and I am always looking for books that look deeper into the Chronicles.  Above the others I've read, I could tell right from the beginning that this author absolutely loves the Chronicles of Narnia and he knows them like the back of his hand.  Obviously, this is what I want when I read nonfiction, but his enthusiasm for his subject came out so well in this book, it made me love it even more. 

I love the way this book was set up.  It was formatted in a very logical, practical way that made it easy to get into and it held my attention – I didn't want to put it down – which is rare for a nonfiction book.  The book's chapters are arranged in order of the books in the series with a couple chapters devoted to each book.  Also, the chapters are fairly short, all under 10 pages, most of them closer to 5.  I loved this – it kept me interested and it was also super easy to put down and come back later.  I find that when chapters are shorter, it is harder for me to become distracted.  
One of the things I realized when reading this book was that there are so many deep, profound themes all throughout the Chronicles of Narnia that it takes someone much smarter and wiser than me to point out.  This phenomenon, however, is what C.S. Lewis loved about good fairy tales – the ability for everyone to enjoy them, from children to adults.  And while the author explores awesome, profound things through these stories, he does so in a way that they don't become confusing or feel heavy.  He makes even the deepest message of Lewis's chronicles utterly accessible.  I loved that.  And while I love reading about deep, profound subjects, I think the practicality and accessibility of the themes in this book kept me from losing interest.  
And finally, my favorite thing above this book is how much it made my love for Narnia grow.  I haven't always loved reading the series, but after reading this book, I immediately wanted to start reading it aloud to my little brothers, find a new edition to get for myself, and read all the books again.  I love that.  I think that should be the point of books about books.  They should point the reader back in the direction of the book they are talking about.  Just like writers of books on the Bible want their reader to ultimately be inspired to return to the Word, I think that is ultimately the goal of writers of books like Live Like a Narnia.  And in this case, it was absolutely successful.  
Live Like a Narnian not only encouraged me to return to Narnia, but to come out with a new set of eyes – to see the world in a different light and to notice the light of Aslan a little more, that I can seek the Lion in this world, and find Him more beautiful.  
Please, please, please buy this book if you are any sort of fan of Narnia and you can thank me later.  It has endeared me to Narnia even more, and showed me things I wouldn't have seen on my own.  
And that wraps up my reviews for the month of March!  Where has time gone?  I was just saying it was crazy that it was March already!  Once again, I apologize for being MIA this coming week, and I will write again in April!  Thanks for reading! xo, Ella

3.20.2015

Top Books for Young Women

I'm sorry for my unexpected hiatus last week – things got pretty busy, and I was out for a couple days with a strange cold, but I used the time off to lay up a store of blog post ideas and I'm really excited about them!  
Today, even though it's Friday, I am here to talk about some books I enjoyed a couple years ago and still enjoy that I think are awesome for any girl going through her teens.  You know how I love my round-ups!  I will do a real quick overview of the book and I'll have a link to purchase each book as well.  Let's do this! (click on title of book to be taken to Amazon)
True Beauty by Carolyn and Nicole Whitacre:  I think I picked this book up in the first place because the cover is so pretty.  It's all watercolor-y and colorful and a nice texture.  It's the little things, guys.  Anyway, I love this book!  It's a refreshingly straightforward look at beauty: the huge emphasis our culture places on it, and the Bible's liberating and contrasting standard of beauty.  This book isn't filled with feel-good fluff or inspirational quotes to boost your self-image.  It provides a solid, Biblical look at beauty – how God sees beauty, and what He sees when He looks at his daughters.  This book looks at the truest book to find out what true beauty is.  If you or someone you know struggle with your appearance and with seeing yourself as God sees you (basically all women), get this book.  It's great. 

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman: I read this book last year, I believe, and I want to reread it this year.  A Million Little Ways is a beautiful book about art.  The kind of art we should live.  In this book, Emily describes art as the stuff God calls you to do: however small or seemingly insignificant.  It's all beautiful art to Him.  And when we create art, we not only bless and glorify God, we bless others.  Because God gave us each something to do that no one else can do the same, and when we obey, it's beautiful.  We are children of a creative God and He calls us to create.  I absolutely love this book: it opened my mind up to what art is (hint: not just painting) and my heart to wanting to live fully alive.  What I loved most about this book is how it absolutely destroys the idea that there are artists – and then there are the rest of us.  No.  We are artists – all of us.  We are God's art and He calls us to live art, every day.  It's a beautiful book and I highly recommend it for anyone of any age! 

Graceful by Emily P. Freeman: When I read this book, I needed it.  Graceful is all about young women's relationship with God should not be a list of things to check off – it's a relationship.  We don't need to have our life together.  We don't need to look perfect.  We don't need to have the perfect life.  We don't need to be perfect, because God is our perfection.  We don't need to be perfect, but do we trust the One who is?  In this book, Emily encourages readers to let go of their try-hard life and be liberated in the grace of God.  It's a message that young women desperately need to hear.  Every budding young woman needs to read this book! 

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris: This book is fairly well-known, maybe a little infamously, but it's essentially a book about doing relationships with guys God's way.  I read this book several times a couple years ago, and what I learned from it has helped me throughout my teens in my interactions and relationships with guys.  Joshua Harris is not absolutely against dating, he is FOR doing relationships God's way and in a way that honors God.  This book is a steady, unwavering cry for a revolution in the way we do relationships with the opposite sex as young people, and it is awesome.  If you are in your mid-teens and dealing with the stickiness of relationships with the opposite sex, this book is for you.

It's Not That Complicated by Anna Marie & Elizabeth Botkin: A couple years ago, this was my favorite book.  I reread it many times and it made my friendships and interactions with guys all much simpler.  This book is about approaching relationships and interactions with guys in a Biblical way.  It's about how we, as Christian young women, are specifically called to build up our brothers, in how we act around them, in what we say, and in how we treat them.  The Botkin sisters show that we have  a duty towards our brothers in Christ in lifting them up, but many times we make a mess of it because our heart gets in the way.  In this book, they offer practical, straightforward Biblical principles that should guide our relationships with guys and that make it all much simpler.  Guys are people too, and we are called to love them with a sisterly love that wants nothing but God's best for them.  This book really helped me during a time in my life when all the guy vs. girl stuff seemed complicated and messy and hard, and the stuff I learned from it still help me in my friendships with guys.  If you are a girl coming into your teens or somewhere in the middle and struggling with the girl/guy thing, you need this book!

Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy: In this book, Leslie Ludy calls young women to be set-apart from the world for God.  This book is about being set-apart for God's service and the amazing things that can happen when we totally surrender to Him.  When we let Him move through us and when we lay down our desires to be replaced with His.  This book is a hard book – it's not easy, doesn't make you feel good about yourself, but it is a good hard.  It will change you.  This book is a call to hand over the reins of your life to Jesus Christ and to serve Him passionately as your King.  When it is all about Him, it's no longer about how you look or how you act or you anything.  This message is liberating, but it is not for the faint of heart.  It is for the young women who crave meaning in their lives, who are willing to sacrifice everything to be set-apart for the service of a sovereign God.  I appreciate this book and its straightforward message, and if you are a teen looking to deepen your relationship with God and infuse your life with meaning, this is the book for you!

And that's it!  Those are some of my favorite books for young women who are anywhere from pre-teen to a couple books that are awesome for any stage of life.  All of these books have touched my life in some way and I am grateful to have read them.  I am leaving next week for Spring Break, so I'm not sure how many posts will go up as of yet, but I hope to get my last review up on Monday.  Thanks for reading! xo, Ella

3.18.2015

Book Review: Fatal Enquiry

Another month, another mystery to review.  This book pleasantly surprised me and reminded me of Sherlock Holmes so much!  And anything that reminds me of my favorite dude from literature is going to be good.

Title: Fatal Enquiry

Author: Will Thomas

Publisher/Price: Minotaur Books / $18.92 (hardcover), $12.96 (paperback) here

Number in series: 6

Type: Fiction

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 304

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Overview: Cyrus Barker's official line of work is private enquiry, and he works closely with his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn.  Aristocrat and sociopath Sebastian Nightwine, a friend-turned-foe from Barker's time in the army, has returned to London after having been chased into the far corners of the earth after Barker attempted to bring him to justice for the alleged murder of his brother.  Now he's back, under the protection of the British government, though he is widely known for his heinous crimes.  Barker is determined to substantiate evidence against Nightwine that would put him away forever – mostly his new plan hatched against a small Asian country – but his arch-nemesis is determined to stop him.  And he almost does, too – planting a murder on Barker, getting the police after him, and ransacking his house.  In a cat-and-mouse game that forces the pair of fugitives across London in varying disguises and into the sorts of places that would make Barker's proper English cook go into seizures, Barker remains a step or two ahead of Nightwine, even when it appears his enemy has won.  In the end, the two men, one a skilled soldier and the other optimistically optimistic agree to a duel.  Nightwine ends up dead, but not before he poisons Barker. Nightwine's daughter, however, show up in the nick of time and saves Barker's life.  Barker makes a full recovery, and he and Llewelyn discover that not only is Nightwine's daughter up to no good, but Nightwine never killed Barker's brother.

My thoughts:  As I said in my first post of the month where I shared the books I planned to review this month, I knew absolutely nothing about this novel (or series) when I checked it out from the library.  But I am always interested into mysteries set in Victorian England, or, let's be honest, mysteries set anywhere, and I liked the cover, so I said, "why not," and checked it out.  And I am happy to say that I am glad I chose to.  This series and its sleuthing duo are so similar to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson that I had to stop and remind myself that they were not, in fact, Holmes and Watson throughout the book.  It was almost unnerving.  The first part of the book reminded me of BBC's Sherlock Holmes: some of the thing Barker said were so much like something Sherlock would say in that show.  At times, Barker treats Llewelyn in much the same way Sherlock treats Watson.  They more or less think they know everything and sometimes get exasperated with others who do not think like they do.  The other half of the book, however, Barker reminded me so much of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes, that his face in my mind is now permanently the face of Holmes in those movies.  Barker even wears dark lenses, like RDJ's Sherlock.  As a result of this super close comparison between the sleuths and their partners, I will probably compare the two a little in this review.

In this book, Barker does not come off like a super-genius, like Sherlock.  He is smart, and logical, and has connections all of the city, who provide a lot of information, but he is a great deal more physical than Sherlock.  He's muscled and knows his way around weapons.  He is eccentric, fairly unpredictable, but surprisingly human.  He shows emotion and feeling far more freely than any Sherlock Holmes I've met (he's not Sherlock Holmes, Ella), and he has close friends.  I found Barker to be a very likeable character in this book, especially when I had RDJ's face associated with his name.  I was a little surprised by how much I liked him, because we don't see a whole lot of him in this book.  The novel is written from Thomas Llewelyn's viewpoint, and he and Barker are very unlike Sherlock and Watson in that they are close associates, but not inseparably close friends like Conan Doyle's heroes.  I found Llewelyn to also be incredibly likeable.  He is a great deal smarter than Watson, with more sarcasm and snark (I laughed out loud at something he said), and he is not afraid to go out and do his own sleuthing apart from Barker.

I also enjoyed the plot.  I haven't recently read anything where there is a strong character placed in opposition to the main character, and I liked that for a change.  Sebastian Nightwine is a despicable person, and I loved seeing him and Barker go at it.  Another thing I loved about the plot was the way the two sleuths were being chased by the person they were trying to find out.  I know that's not like an amazing new thing that's never been done before, but it was fun following them around London as they try to stay away from not only their enemy, but also the police.  I also really enjoyed the story from the first-person viewpoint of Thomas: he has an engaging voice and a pleasant amount of humor.   The plot twist at the end of the book – Barker's death, and then not-death, really surprised me and caught me off guard.  I mean, looking back, it was kind of predictable, but I guess I'm just kind of gullible when it comes to mysteries, which makes them fun to read.  And the ending of the book really makes me want to read the next one, which I don't think is out yet.

The author's writing style is perfectly suited to what he writes about – I think it's great.  It's the kind of writing that makes the story the highlight, and not the writing, which is the best sort of writing, according to Roy Peter Clark.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book: the characters were likeable and engaging, the plot was fast-paced and interesting, and the writing style suited to the story.  I will definitely continue to read this series and I recommend it to mystery readers and fans of Sherlock Holmes!

*This was a book I picked up for the Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge this year.  Find out more about that challenge here.

3.09.2015

Favorite Podcasts // March 2015

Hello!  Today I am here to talk about my favorite podcasts.  The last couple years I have really gotten into podcasts: listening to them while I mow in the summer,  all year around when I'm cleaning, and generally whenever I'm performing some mindless task.  While I am subscribed to quite a few podcasts on my phone, there are several I consistently like to listen to and eagerly await each week.

I have four top picks, and then I will mention some runners-up at the end: podcasts I enjoy, but don't consistently listen to.

First up, my favorite podcast of all time: Tim Keller's Sermons from his church in New York City.  The podcast is updated every couple of months with three new sermons, so it's not super consistent, but there are about 100 sermons in the podcast archive, and I managed to work my way through them all during a summer of mowing a couple years ago.  I have a lot of favorites, and it absolutely makes my day when they release new ones.

Tim Keller's sermons have opened my eyes to how much different stories in the Bible point to Jesus and the story of salvation.  I absolutely love his sermon style: he teaches in the first two thirds of it and then ties it back to Jesus, and it is the best.  My favorite sermons are: (80) How Sin Makes Us Addicts, (69) Lord of the Wine, (66) The Story of the Lamb, (40) I Am He, (25) Questions of Suffering, (16) Basis of Prayer "Our Father", (14) Beholding the Love of God, (12) The Lord of the Earth, (1) Adoration: Hallowed be Thy Name.  You can subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes by going here.


I'm going to list my two serious podcasts together, and the next one was a recent discovery.  The Gospel Coalition does a podcast that focuses on relevant issues within the church and within the culture.  These episodes are often taken from conferences TGC does, and there are also interviews, and other stuff.  As I said, often the episodes are from conferences, and so people from TGC often make appearances, like John Piper, Timothy Keller, Don Carson, Kathy Keller, and others.  I haven't listened to a ton of episodes, but my favorite one comes from their Women's Conference last year and it's #10: You Are What You Read by Rosaria Butterfield and she speaks about homosexuality and what our response to it should be based on the Bible.  It's really good.  link here


Now, onto the semi-serious, but mostly fun podcasts.  I discovered the Relevant podcast late last year and it is a good mix of spiritual topics, culture, and a lot of inside jokes.  The episodes are normally about 1 1/2 hours long, and they usually interview music artists, authors, and people who start charities or other other organizations.  All the people on the podcast are super fun and they talk about the funniest things.  The podcast takes a few episodes to get into because there are so many inside jokes and you need to be someone who doesn't mind people going off on tangents and talking about dumb stuff, because that happens a lot!  I think it is just the funnest thing and I look forward to it every Friday.  I don't really have a favorite episode... I enjoy all of them!


And my final favorite podcast is one that I listen to purely for fun.  The Relevant podcast is equal parts profound and hilarious, but The Incomparable is simply entertainment.  On The Incomparable they talk about all things TV: superhero movies, superhero TV shows, old movies, everything Star Wars, and even books once in a while.  My favorite episodes are the Star Wars ones: there are a couple people on the podcast who know everything there is to know about Star Wars, and they spent like an hour and a half talking about the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie, and it was the best.  They also do two-part discussions of each of the movies from the most recent trilogy (episodes I-III) and basically rip them apart (because true Star Wars lovers hate those movies).  Oh my word – those episodes are so funny!  In the episode released last Saturday, they talk about the last movie in the trilogy and I cannot wait to listen to it!  If you are geeky and love Star Wars and superheroes and all that, I recommend this podcast!

Runners up: I am subscribed to some other podcasts that I don't listen to consistently – just once in a while if I have nothing else to listen to.  One of those is the New York Times Book Review Podcast, which discusses best sellers, interviews authors, and more.  It's short and easy to listen to, and I enjoy listening to it once in a while if an episode catches my eye.  I also really enjoy Back to Work – a podcast about productivity and geeky stuff that I listen to because one of the guys is super funny.  It's not for everyone, but I like it.

And that wraps up my favorite podcasts as of now!  I love listening to podcasts when I'm mowing, or cleaning, or having a slow day at work.  They are the best!  Thanks for reading, and I will be back on Wednesday to talk about my new favorite TV show.  xo, Ella

3.06.2015

This Girl Likes #11

Hello, and happy Friday!  I am here today once again to share some of my favorite things I found around the web last week.

Well, Marvel plans to release Age of Ultron in May, and over the last couple weeks they have begun to release the movie posters for each Avenger.  My favorite is Cap, and so I wanted to share his poster.  Marvel also released another trailer for the upcoming film, and I believe there are three out now.  I actually haven't watched any of them but the first one; honestly, I'm a little scared to watch the others.  Like, in the first one, Cap's shield is broken in half!  What?


I always enjoy seeing what notable people are reading, and this week, The Gospel Coalition shared Tim Keller's current reads and favorite books.  While many of them sound super heavy, a few seemed pretty interesting.  Check that out here.  

Randomly, I decided to google around and see if there were any cookbooks out there with recipes inspired by famous books, and I actually found some!  Huffington Post wrote an article with recipes inspired by literary classics (here), and I also found a Narnia cookbook (here).


Also, I have a new favorite song.  I've heard it on the radio a few times now, but it is by Bethel Music  and the title is You Make Me Brave.  I absolutely love it.  First of all, it makes me dance around in the snow at night, and second, the words are the best.  Because God's love for us + our realization of His love = us being brave for Him.  And I think that is beautiful.  

Finally, I am currently reading Live Like A Narnian to review this month, and so I am in full-on Chronicles of Narnia obsession.  Not that I was ever not obsessed with the Chronicles, but I have fallen in love with them all over this week.  I'll just go ahead and say that book is awesome right now.  And so are the Chronicles of Narnia.  I started reading A Horse And His Boy (my favorite) to my brothers, and I am now on the hunt for an updated and much cooler edition of the series.  *Sigh*  Such a nerd.  

And that rounds up my favorite things this week!  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella

3.04.2015

Mini Book Reviews // February Library Reads

Surprise, surprise, there's actually one book this time that is not a mystery!  Well, technically, it's not marked as a mystery, but there is a mystery subtly woven throughout.  But hey, I checked it out without knowing that.  I must have a force field that attracts mysteries...  

Anyway, I am here today to do mini reviews on the books I picked up from the library last month for the Snagged @ The Library Challenge.  Reading three library books a month keeps me on track for my target number of 36.  You can read last month's mini reviews here.  


Murder on Astor Place: I discovered a new author last month: Victoria Thompson.  This book is her debut mystery in a series about a widowed midwife, Sarah Brandt, living in turn-of-the-century New York City.  In this first book, Sarah helps deliver a baby for a woman who runs a boarding house.  The following day, the woman discovers that one of her boarders, a young woman, has been murdered.  Thus, Sarah is pulled into the mystery.  She knows the family of the young woman who was murdered, and she rather forcibly thrusts her help upon the police officer investigating the murder, Frank Malloy.  Sarah comes from one of New York's wealthiest families, and because the young woman who was murdered belonged to a wealthy family as well, Sarah is able to provide Malloy with information and connections.  Malloy is brooding, not entirely honorable, and generally unlikeable, but Sarah continues to help him with the mystery, whether he likes it or not.  There are enough brutal plot twists, shocking discoveries, and dirty motives to go around before the mystery is solved.

I really enjoyed this book.  It's one of those very solid, classic mysteries.  There are plenty of one-on-one interviews, scene-of-the-crime investigations, and police-y bits.  This is certainly not one to read if you prefer thriller mysteries with lots of suspense, or anything, but it is great if you are a fan of really good, classic detective stuff.  I enjoy Sarah Brandt's character.  She's pretty unconventional, very smart, persistent, and absolutely unflappable.  Like, nothing phases her.  Frank Malloy, on the other hand, isn't an extremely likable character, but the reader gets insights into him throughout the book and you can kind of warm up to him.  He is rather nasty to Sarah, though, and I have to say that that got a little annoying.  Also, I really love the history in this book!  Theodore Roosevelt makes a few cameos, as he is the (infamous) police commissioner at the time the novel takes place, and he is passionate about reform in the NYPD, which is pretty corrupt.  I really enjoyed that.  Last thing: this book has some wicked twists, and I'm totally a fan.  Overall, good book, and I think I'll continue to read Victoria Thompson's stuff.

Murder on Marble Row: This is #6 in the series kicked off by Murder on Astor Place, and this time, there is another murder (pretty evident from the title), but this time, Malloy is put on the job by Roosevelt himself.  It's a wealthy factory owner who had an unfortunate introduction to a bomb placed in his office.  Anarchists are high on the list of suspects, although the man's family and colleagues aren't out of the question, either.  Once again, Sarah Brandt is also involved, and while Malloy wants her no where near the crime, he can't afford to refuse her when her help is so invaluable.  The rest of the story is quite similar to the first.  A lot of dealing with a wealthy and difficult New York family with a host of motives for killing their father and husband.  Once again, there were a lot of plot twists, but this time, the story felt a little dragged out.  Just when I was sure they solved it, something else would come up or not line up, and they would have to accuse someone else.  It got a little long.  Also, while there are hints that Malloy is in love with Sarah, and he is softening to her, he still gets angry with her every time he sees her talking to suspects or investigating angles, or traipsing around New York to visit anarchists or the bereaved family, etc.  More than anything, that got suuuuper old.  Like, you just knew that when Sarah was somewhere and Malloy turned up there would be a angry glare from Malloy and a retort from Sarah, and – I got kind of sick of it.  Also, their relationship seems to have barely changed from the first book, and this is #6!  I'm sick of their back and forth just from two books, and there are like four in there where it must be the same!  Ugh.  If I decide to continue reading this series, I will go with 7 or something, because I would like to see if their relationship ever progresses.  In conclusion, it was a good mystery, but I'm getting a little tired of the character dynamic.

The Secret Keeper: One word could sum up this book for me.  Beautiful.  The Secret Keeper was a beautiful book.  There were parts of the story that were not beautiful, characters who were not beautiful, but it is just a beautiful story.  The main character, a British actress named Laurel from pretty close to present day, has a memory from her childhood when she was 16 of her mother killing a man who had come to visit their home.  She was the only one of her three sisters and one brother who saw it, and she lied to the police and said that her mother had killed the man in self defense, but she hadn't.  And Laurel remembered.  And now, as her mother lies only a couple months from death, Laurel embarks on a quest to uncover the secrets of her mother, Dorothy Nicholson.  This search takes her from present day back to pre-WWII, to England through the Blitz, to the '60s and through the lives of people she never met.  In the end, what she finds is stunning, and in a way, beautiful.

Oh my word.  This book was just amazing.  It started out so innocent and sweet, a girl in love with the One, a young man who lived by his camera.  A beautiful romance that blossomed into something harder than they bargained for, more complicated than they foresaw, and ended in something of nightmares.  But underneath the secrets, the regrets, the loss, there was redemption, a second chance at a new life, forgiveness.  I cannot explain what it was about this book that was so beautiful and compelling, but I think it was the theme of second chances and forgiveness.  Dorothy Nicholson had done awful things, but she had been given a second chance, she had found her people, and they forgave her.  That's why I found it so beautiful.

Kate Morton is an incredible storyteller.  She weaves unbelievable stories with broken people and their painful lives, and it's beautiful.  This was a captivating book – the characters stole my heart and I felt like I really knew them by the end.  That's what I want in a story – characters I can connect with and identify with, and even when I can't, I want them to be real and believable.  And this book met those wishes.  If you read one book this month, make it this one!  I highly, highly recommend it.  It. was. just. beautiful.

And those were the books I read last month from the library!  Thanks so much for reading, and I will be back on Friday with another installment of This Girl Likes.  xo, Ella

3.02.2015

On the Stack // March

Wow, I can't believe it's March already.  That's crazy!  Winter's almost over, which makes me sad, but I'm looking forward to a lot of things in the spring, so the change in seasons is not all bad.  Also, frappucchinos at Starbucks.  Can't wait.

As I'm writing this though, there is plenty of snow on the ground, and I just love it.  Anyway, I am here today to share the books I plan on reviewing this month.  There are only two, but I have quite a few books to read, so I might pop another review up this month if I read a really good book.  For now, though, I want to talk about the two I'm scheduled to read.

Okay, so, I know absolutely zero about this series; I have never heard of it, but I was at the library and saw that it was a mystery and liked the cover, and so I checked it out.  Apparently it has an average of about four stars on Goodreads, so I feel pretty good about it.  We shall see.  Description via Amazon.
Brimming with wit, atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, FATAL ENQUIRY reintroduces private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewellyn, and their unforgettable world of Victorian London. 

Some years ago, Cyrus Barker matched wits with Sebastian Nightwine, an aristocrat and sociopath, and in exposing his evil, sent Nightwine fleeing to hide from justice somewhere in the far corners of the earth. The last thing Barker ever expected was to encounter Nightwine again—but the British government, believing they need Nightwine’s help, has granted him immunity for his past crimes, and brought him back to London. Nightwine, however, has more on his mind than redemption—and as Barker and Llewellyn set out to uncover and thwart Nightwine’s real scheme, they find themselves in the gravest danger of their lives. 

I requested this book for my birthday last year, and am (embarrassingly) just now getting around to reading it.  I ran across it at a time when I was super obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia and listening to the dramatized audio books while I mowed every week (#homeschoolerconfessions), and I am always happy to read books that go deeper into books I love.  I'm excited to crack this one open. 
In Live Like a Narnian Joe Rigney shows that Owen Barfield was right--What C.S. Lewis thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything. From apologetics to his thoughts on education, from his view of science to the role of government, from Natural Law to true manhood and womanhood--the breadth of Lewis's bright vision of life shines through in his beloved Chronicles. Come, learn to breathe Narnian air.
And those are the books I am planning to read/review this month!  Keep an eye out for the reviews starting around the third week in March.  Thanks for reading and I will be back this week with some mini book reviews.  xo, Ella