Monday, July 27, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things #2: 10 Beautiful Bookish Pictures

1. The National Library in Vienna, Austria

2.  These gorgeous vintage books.

3.  The Klenentinum Library in Prague.

4. This to-die-for home library.

5. This picture that proves that I live in the wrong country.

6. Hay-on-Wye: a Welsh town that's basically a giant book-shop.

7.  This secret doorway.

8. Viggo Mortennson reading LOTR

9. Reading outside.

10.  Audrey Hepburn + books + tea = Fabulousness.

Which picture was your favorite? Do you love Pinterest too?

Monday, July 20, 2015

I had an adventure yesterday...


I had an adventure yesterday.

My older sister was home for the weekend, so after church we decided to drive up The Mountain and go hiking. It was rather hot when we started out; we rolled down our windows as the car wound up the mountain side.  The air grew cooler as we drove towards the top, and rain splattered our windshield through the mist.  We hummed along to The Weepies and breathed the fresh mountain air. It smelled like pine trees, rain, and adventures.

We found a road that lead to a meadow and a pond.

There were patches of wildflowers here and there, so my sisters picked a bouquet.

My little brother quickly recovered from all symptoms of carsickness as soon as he began to play in the tall, green, beautiful grass.

And then we had a picnic on the grass under a great pine tree.  There were sandwiches, and ritz crackers, and plenty of cherries to go around. 

We took some family photos.

And some silly pics.

We even started a hike into the woods.
And took some more silly pics.

But the looming clouds decided to open up and drench us.
So we hid under some trees because my little brother doesn't like being "cold-wet" as he would say.

The change of plans wasn't bad though.
Because I had the chance to show my sisters a secret place that a friend had shown me two years ago...
Down a hidden pathway, past the lake...

Over a fairytale-ish stream and some tall rocks...

is a magical ravine with pine trees growing on either side, and opening up at the bottom of the mountain into a vast, desert plain.  It's so beautiful, that a camera can't capture it perfectly.  You'd have to see it yourself to understand.  And that's what makes this place a hidden jewel.

And so we drove back home to the sound of rain on the windshield and The Weepies, and the smell of rain and pine trees and adventures...
This is the story of what happened yesterday, mostly factual, a tiny bit fantasized. Let's just say, I left out the bits about how my little brother got sick while we were driving and about how we thought we'd lost his hat. etc... But really, it was quite lovely, and probably one of the most lovely adventures I've had in a while.
And here's another goofy selfie we took at home, just for good measure...
I am fire! I am death! I managed a Benedict Cumberbatch
level photobomb!
Photography credits go to my fabulous older sister, Michaela. Because I'm a lame photographer and I forgot a camera.  Follow her on Instagram to see more of her amazing photography. Or here to see her paintings and other art photography.
Have you had any interesting adventures lately?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I forgot how interesting history is...

   You know how sometimes you really love something, but you forget how much you like it, and then you encounter it again and you go 'woah, this is awesome!'? Well, that's what happened to me with historical fiction.  It used to be the main thing I read three years ago, but then I got into science fiction, fantasy, and some occasional classics and I kind of forgot about it for a while.  Last month I got three historical fiction books by Elizabeth Wein for my birthday, and as I was reading them it kind of brought back how much I actually looove learning about different civilizations and times in history.  I started remembering some really excellent historical fiction books I'd read, and it came to me, I should just read historical fiction for an entire month!  So I've made a list of books I want to read this month.
   1. A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth E. Wein. (Book 2 in The Lion Hunters series)
I promise this book is much better
than the cover.
 2. Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

4. When the Sirens Wailed by Noel Streatfeild 

5. Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian

6. The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff

7. Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

8. The Iron Lily by Barbara Willard

9. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

10. Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

11.  The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

   Now that I look at this list, I know it's rather unrealistic since I probably won't be able to read all of these, but I'm super excited to try. (-:  If this goes well, I may very well do a themed reading list every month.  Maybe next month I'll read all of the Charles Dickens books on my shelf that I haven't read yet, or maybe famous French authors (Les Miserables is challenging me tauntingly from my shelf full of unread books.)  What theme should I do next month? Have you read any of these books on my list? What did you think? I'll update you as to how it went at the end of the month. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

every mornin' every evenin', ain't we got fun...: a book review

Isn't the cover gorgeous, though?

   I recently won a very generous giveaway for Emily Chapman and Emily Ann Putzke's new book, Ain't We Got Fun.  Thanks so much, you guys!  I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got to read the Ain't We Got Fun on their blogs before it was edited and published in book format.  I've got to confess, I had fangirl attacks each time their was a new letter posted on their blogs and I got to find out what happened to the characters next.  As you can imagine, I was ecstatic when I heard they were getting published, and even more so when I won their fabulous giveaway. So, get ready for my first ever book review full of fangirling and rainbows and glitter and general happiness.

Can you believe that this beautiful copy of Little Women and the
coffee and several other lovely items came in this giveaway?
   Ain't We Got Fun is a compiled correspondence between two sisters, Bess and Gi, during the Great Depression.  It tells the story of their joys, sorrows, and adventures in love and life.  When Gi leaves for New York to seek her fortune, she knows she'll find adventure, but not necessarily in all the ways she's expected.  At home, Bess is having some unexpected adventures as well.

    I can't tell you how charming and wonderful this book is!  You might call me biased because I've been reading along since it was first shared on their blogs, but once you read it, you will be just as attached! If you're not already convinced by the summary, I will try to describe as coherently as possible what a lovely book this is. 

The Characters
    The main characters Bess (Elizabeth) and Gi (Georgiana) Rowland, although sisters, are almost opposites, but are still best friends.  Gi is feisty, adventurous, loves coffee (like, really loves coffee), and dreams big.  Bess is a bit of a homebody with brave streak; she finds beauty in the little things, and has a habit of twisting her ankles at the most inopportune moments!  I can't decide which character I loved more.  I love how they both grow and learn things throughout the book.  I feel like they not only became wiser,  but they also became better people.  They each had their own unique voice, and funny little quirks.  Gi can drink multiple cups of coffee in one sitting, and she makes impetuous decisions (probably due to all the coffee) like auditioning for a Broadway play without thinking, "Hey, I don't even know how to tap dance..."  Bess thinks things through, but still manages to get into mishaps (which often involve twisted ankles).  Bess is a really sweet and caring soul.  Although she doesn't make anything of it, she always seems to be helping people.  The Rowland sisters felt so real to me that I wanted to jump into the book and have coffee with Gi and discuss Little Women with Bess.
    And I haven't even mentioned the supporting characters.  A lot of times authors pay so little attention to the supporting characters that no matter how realistic the main characters are, the story doesn't seem quite convincing.  Emily and Emily gave even the smallest character life.  Speaking of which... I LOVED Tom and Will! Let's just say, I was a fan from their first minutes of screen page time.  And no, I'm not going to tell you anything more about them. You'll just have to read the book. (-;
{via pinterest}

Historical Setting
    Is it weird to say that I love the Great Depression? Well, it is a really cool time period, even if things were tough back then.  The descriptions in the letters really gave a feeling of the 1930's and of the poverty of that time, but they also focussed on the joys of life, like ice skating in Central Park, the feeling of reading a favorite classic, or stumbling across an unexpected sea of wildflowers.  Although the characters had some pretty tough financial problems and difficult decissions to make, they didn't bemoan them all the livelong day, they took time to enjoy life.  I think that was what made this book so charming.
{via pinterest}

The Plot
    I'm a sucker for a fabulous plot or a wild plot twist.  But then again, I love a book that feels more like real life.  I feel like I often connect more with the story, which I find very important while reading a book.  Ain't We Got Fun didn't have any crazy plot twists, but it was engaging and really encouraging to read.  Bess and Gi's struggles, joys, and adventures were so captivating that I had a hard time putting to book down.  I had fangirl moments in which I shipped people and lost the ability to even.  I know this doesn't have a lot to do with the plot, but I just wanted to say, this is probably the best piece of Christian literature that I have read in years.  It was entirely clean and wholesome, but without a moment of preachiness.  I've got to admit, preachiness is a huge turn-off for me, and that's why I don't read a lot of Christian books, but even the moments when the characters talked about God, it was genuine without being at all preachy.  

The Writing
    You guys have no idea how badly I want to be as good at writing as the two talented authoresses are.  And this is only their second book!  (Seriously though, if writing only improves with practice, can you imagine how fabulous their writing will be in ten years?)  The prose (for lack of a less pretentious word) flowed together beautifully, and the characters each had their own voice and rhythm.  I also noted a satisfying lack of adverbs.  (Currently one of my pet writing peeves. ) The writing had a classic and homey feel about it that made me want to just pop into the story and be part of that world for a little while.  I think that Miss Emily Chapman and Miss Emily Ann Putzke have excellent chemistry as writers.  Sometimes more than one writer can make a story sound choppy or patched together.  Transitions between the two sisters voices was natural and didn't make me feel like I was jumping from place to place, which can be particularly annoying for a reader!  So kudos to the authors for a fabulous job writing this book!

My Rating of This Book:
Five stars! Five Thumbs up! Five children! 
(If you didn't get that random Studio C reference, watch this hilarious video)

    Thanks again to Emily and Emily for this fantastic book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves a wholesome, delightful and well written novel. Ain't We Got Fun now has a specially place in my heart and on my bookshelf.  So if you haven't already read it, read it now and join the Ain't We Got Fun fanclub.  (Because it is an inevitable part of reading the book. XD) And if you've already read it, tell me what you thought in the comments below so we can fangirl together!
Photography credits go to my lovely sister, Sarah!

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