Saturday, September 17, 2016

Summer Reading List: The Epic Conclusion

In THIS post, I shared with you my summer reading list and the likelihood that I would finish each book. I had lofty goals—fourteen books. I finished... (wait for it... wait for it...) ...three books.
Three books from my list, that is. I actually finished sixteen books between May and the end of August. So, even though I didn't complete my reading list, I would still count myself successful.
Let's recap, shall we?


Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

2/5 stars.
A human mining operation on a faraway planet is attacked, but several ships escape before it's Too Late. Unfortunately, they are plagued with a biological weapon and are chased by the bad guys. Can teenage lovers Kady and Ezra hack into the computer and save everyone??

The format of this book is fantastic, as it is told through transcripted conversations, transcripted surveillance videos, instant messages, and ships logs.
That was, however, the only thing I enjoyed about the book. The plot was okay, I suppose, but the characters were all the same smart-mouthed, crass person. Would not recommend.

The Adventure of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

4/5 stars.
The Bastable children try to solve their family's financial troubles by coming up with several ludicrous schemes to earn money.

This is exactly what you would expect an E. Nesbit book to be like... fun, sweet, and slightly adventurous. I would recommend her books as before-bed reading for the whole family.


The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (audiobook)

4/5 stars.
Demon-in-training Wormwood and his Uncle Screwtape converse via correspondence on how to corrupt human souls.

A fantastic book, though I missed parts of it because I listened to it on my way to work. I want to read it so that I can soak in every word. Once I do that, I'm sure the book will become 5/5 stars, rather than 4/5 stars. I would recommend The Screwtape Letters to Christians who enjoy being challenged in their faith and who enjoy satirical storytelling.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

5/5 stars.
The history of Middle Earth.

The Lord of the Rings has so much more meaning now that I know the history of the world it takes place in! I loved The Silmarillion, even though I had to wade through the prose at times (I think one of my shoes is still lost in the mire). Recommended to passionate Lord of the Rings fans.

Heap House by Edward Carey

4/5 stars.
Every Iremonger is given an object when they are born. Clod Iremonger is the only one who can hear the birth objects whispering, though. When a new serving girl starts working at Heap House, the objects whisper nervously and even start to move on their own. Are the two events somehow connected?

Heap House is, without a doubt, the most unique story I have EVER read. It's so unique that I don't know how to describe it, so I will say: go read it if you are looking for a distinctive plot!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (audiobook)

5/5 stars.
A mysterious boy appears at the house next door. The four March sisters befriend him and, together, all five of them have many adventures and grow into strong adults under the tutelage of Marmy.

I'm so sad that I never read Little Women before this summer! I enjoyed it immensely and I can't wait to read it again in the future. I recommend this classic for anyone who enjoys friendship stories about people being people.

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

2/5 stars.
Princess Una has come of age and has suitors from many different lands vying for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, she has also gained the attention of an evil being called The Dragon.

After hearing many bloggers rave about the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, I read the first book. I didn't enjoy it, and I feel terrible for it, because I know that it is a well-loved series. I disliked it for two major reasons: 1) I felt that the pacing didn't work, for the first half of the book focuses on Una and her suitors and nothing really happens... Then, the story takes a drastic turn from romance to allegory and action. 2) The plot doesn't work without the allegory. This may be a personal preference, but I think that if an author writes an allegory, the plot should still make sense if you take out the allegory.
I did enjoy Ms. Stengl's prose, and her world-building seemed well-fleshed out; the world seems much bigger than we read about on the page, which leaves plenty of opportunity for exploring in the sequels.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (audiobook)

I listened to the entire Narnia series on audiobook this summer. My least favorite Narnia book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because I'm so familiar with the plot. I also know Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader very well. I was happy to read the other books in the series as it has been a long, long time and I had forgotten a lot.


Into the Vast by D.J. Edwardson

5/5 stars.
Adan awakes in the Institute with no memories. When he is broken out of the Institute by Will, he must learn about the world around him and he must decide whether or not he wants to help Will destroy the technological superpower of the city of Oasis.

To quote from my Goodreads review, "Into the Vast is everything I enjoy in a novel: great setting, wonderful prose (my favorite chapter was Chapter 35: On the Threshold), characters that you can feel for, adventure and action, and all with a slight sci-fi undertone (even if the novel is supposed to be more of a dystopian)." If you enjoy that kind of book, check out Into the Vast!


Hidden Pearls by Hayden Wand

3/5 stars.
Constance, one out of six girl cousins raised by their grandparents, is called across the Atlantic ocean to visit her ailing, aging great-aunt. Along the way, she faces storms and privateers and learns many a lesson.

Again, a book that I had high hopes for, but it ultimately disappointed me. My biggest complaint about this book are the romances. There were five couples in this book and they all seemed to fall into their relationships too easily. I found them cliché and they overwhelmed the plot.
I did love the author's humor, though. She's very funny and has many a clever sentence. I also enjoyed the quotes she included at the beginning of each chapter.

And there you have my summer reading list of 2016! Right now, I'm reading Frankenstein for school, the sequel to Into the Vast, and an Edgar Allen Poe short story here and there. I think I will start The Fellowship of the Ring tonight. I miss reading Tolkien.

What have YOU been reading lately?

Friday, September 2, 2016

An Update from Beyond

It's been just over two weeks since I first arrived at school, so I thought it was time for an update post!

Me with most of my stuff the night before leaving home.
The advice:
-Get involved.
-Go to football games.
-Cry if I need to.
-If a boy comes up to me claiming that God told him to marry me, run away. Far away.
-Put studies first and fun second.
-Don't go on walks with boys, for that leads to marriage. (So far, so good! No boys have gone walking with me alone.)

The dorm:

One of my secret desires as a kid was to have a vaulted bed with a desk underneath. Now, that desire has been fulfilled! I love my "cave." I love that all of my stuff is contained in one corner rather than spread out across the room. I love that I can organize everything I own to my own preferences.
The rest of the dorm is really nice, too. Since this building used to be a hotel, it is the only dorm on campus that has a pool and hot tub.

The food:
The one thing I didn't think to buy before school is food. The food here is delicious, but it is a fifteen minute walk from my dorm to the dining hall and sometimes I don't want to make that journey. It's good to have food in the room just in case.
I've managed to stay away from sugar, for the most part! I've been eating a lot of natural sugar in fruit, but I haven't had a single cookie or candy bar since I got here. They're very tempting, but I'm determined not to gain the Freshman Fifteen pounds.

The friends:
God has blessed me with two amazing roommates. We get along really well. We three have been hanging out with the other freshman in our hall (and our "brother hall" downstairs) a lot. It's nice to have a group to do things with. I've also started developing friendships with some of the girls in my classes, too. I have to keep reminding myself that friendships don't form in a week, though. The hardest part of transitioning from "person" to "college person" has been the relational part. It's difficult to be 1,500 miles away from all of the people who know me best. I am very thankful for my roommates who are very encouraging and loving and for the close connection we have, even though it has only been a little over two weeks.

The classes:
I am taking four classes right now and I love them SO MUCH! Spiritual Formation is interesting because I am learning about developing my relationship with God and how that affects other areas in my life. Composition is fantastic because I am learning about editing grammar mistakes and that is what I am here for in the first place—learning the skills to become an editor! Call me crazy, but correct comma usage excites me.
My other two classes are tied for my favorite. One of them is Gothic Literature. So far, we have learned about the context and history of Gothic Literature, we have learned the story components found in most Gothic fiction, we have discussed how as Christians we should approach the horrors of Gothic fiction, and we have read and discussed several Gothic short stories. So far, my favorite short stories have been written by Edgar Allen Poe. Soon, we will move on to the main text of the class: The Phantom of the Opera. Gothic Literature is so fascinating! This class has given me several short story ideas.
My other favorite class is Literary Studies. Much of the enjoyment for this class comes from the teacher. He is so charismatic! And he is very passionate about literature. Also, his specialty is Shakespeare and I love Shakespeare. I hope to take some of his Shakespeare classes someday.
We read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight last week and when we got to class on Thursday, he had us act out Part I! I got to play Gawain and it was so much fun! I couldn't stop grinning all the way to chapel.
I'm so happy to be learning again!

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I appreciate them. I don't know how often I will be able to blog, but I hope to be able to get at least one or two posts out a month!

Now, tell me, what have you been up to? I feel like I've been severed from the virtual world. What have I missed in your lives?