Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"The Greatest Showman" Book Tag

I'm indebted to two ladies for this tag: first, to Hamlette for tagging me; second, to Eva for creating it in the first place. :)  Thanks, ladies!


~ Answer the questions.
~ Tag others as desired.
~ Use the graphic if you wish.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"The Greatest Show": Name a book that’s as entertaining as a circus

I personally find The Hundred and One Dalmatians (by Dodie Smith) all kinds of fun.  The delicious setting, the writing, the illustrations . . . it's all perfect. :)

"A Million Dreams": Name a book that’s set in a fantastical world

Peter Pan (by J.M. Barrie), perhaps?

Everything. <3

"Come Alive": Name a book that makes you outrageously happy

The Princess Bride (by William Goldman).  It's my happy place.  (Click the link to read my review.)

~"The Other Side: Name a book that changed your mind about something

Reading A Morbid Taste for Bones, which is the first book in Ellis Peters' Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series, made me think that maybe I could actually enjoy a murder mystery every now and again.  (Reminds me, I really need to find the second book in the series and see if that holds true now . . . )

"Never Enough": Name a book that you’ve re-read more than once


Oh, I'm actually supposed to pick one?  Hmm.  In that case: Ella Enchanted (by Gail Carson Levine) MAY be the book I've reread the most, actually.  (But that's partially due to one week in my tweens when I reread it multiple times in the span of a few days.)

"This Is Me": Name a book with a character that reminds you of yourself

Prince Caspian (by C.S. Lewis).  Susan, I feel you.  And we're going to help you.  Don't you worry, girlfriend. <3

"Rewrite the Stars": Name a book with a forbidden romance

(I'm majorly cheating on this one, because I'm going to mention a book I haven't actually read.)  I recently saw Doctor Thorne for the first time, and knowing that it's based on a book by Anthony Trollope, I'm assuming that the romance in the miniseries is just as forbidden in the original book.  So . . . that, I guess??

"Tightrope": Name a book with an adventurous main character

I guess I'll go with Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky.  Hattie's pretty adventurous, am I right?!

"From Now On": Name a book with a wonderful family (related or otherwise)
Well, since I just reread it recently, let's go with Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks again, Hamlette & Eva!
Anyone, feel free to complete the tag. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Another ASK ME ANYTHING In Honor Of My Blogiversary

Yes, friends, it's going to be my blogging birthday.  In October.  Yes.  My blogiversary.

So, why the seemingly-premature post here in June, you ask?  Well, I'm actually planning a few things for this particular blogiversary, and these plans include . . . *drumroll* . . . vlogging.

*audience gasps*

Yes.  Indeed they do.  You see, I want to do another Ask Me Anything (I've done one before, but it was a while back) and answer it in several (hopefully short) vlogs!  Lord willing and the technology works. ;-P

So, your part in all this is to think of questions for me to answer. :D  I'll be trying to keep the videos short, as I said, and I'll let you know whose questions I answer before each video so that you can know which video to watch for the answers to your specific questions. :)

Would you be willing to do that?  Thanks loads.  I'd be ever so grateful for whatever you could contribute.  So, ask away!! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cover Reveal for Rachel Kovaciny's NEW BOOK

'Ello, chaps and chappesses!

As you may know, Rachel Kovaciny, author of The Man on the Buckskin Horse, Cloaked, and No Match for a Good Story, is set to release the second installment in her Once Upon a Western fairytale retellings anthology in August.

And now, I'm pleased to say, she's revealing the cover!

But first, howzabout a brief blurb about the story itself?

A drifting Civil War veteran tackles the task of figuring out who's been spiking the apple cider at a Kansas dance hall owned by a family with twelve daughters.

^^ First of all, how are people able to condense a whole plot into such a short yet perfectly informative sentence??  Skillz, man.  Second of all, I'm excited to read this!

Aaaaandddd, aren't you excited to see the cover?  

Okay, okay, here you go:

Doesn't that just look like apple cider and barn raisings and doughnuts and all things comfy and country and homey?!

Here are all the pertinent links:

Don't forget, Dancing and Doughnuts is slated to be released this August!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"You will NEVER guess!"

Oh boy, guys.  This is big!  Really, friends.  This news is life-changing.

Well, okay, fine, maybe it's not really life-changing, but . . . it has certainly been "an epoch in my life," as Anne Shirley would say.  (She says that somewhere, doesn't she?  Anywho.)

Do you want to know what it is?  Very well, I shall tell you.

I got to meet up with blogging friends!!!!

TWO blogging friends, to be exact: Miss March and Natalie!!!  And we got to visit for a whole nine days!  IT WAS FREAKING EPIC.

Howzabout a little chat with them, eh??  [Olivia in purple, Natalie in blue, and Alyssa (Miss March) in peach.]

Hi, it's Alyssa (otherwise known as Miss March).

And this is Natalie. *waves* 

Well, I guess someone should explain how this grand occasion came about. Anyone volunteer?

I shall try my hand at it.  Alyssa invited us to her house, and we came, and here we are on our last full day together (by the time you read this, the Fellowship will have been broken).

Staaahpppp. *cries* I don't want to leave!!!! *hugs you guys* Alyssa, can I just stay forever?

Can I second that request??????!!!!!!!

Weeeelll...I don't know about forever...

Okay, FINE, then!  Gosh!!

I guess she wants us to get out of her life and shut up.

She must not love us anymore, Natalie. *cries on your shoulder*

Oh really, girls.  You are so over dramatic.  *eye roll*

*sigh*  Well, whatever.  As we said, this is our last full day together, so we need to go do super-cool things you wouldn't understand--

Government secrets, you know.

Interrupting.  Uh, rude.

As I was going to say, we need to go, but we thought we'd give you some mini (and we mean very mini) reviews of all the cinematic delights in which we've been indulging this past week.

Speaking of indulging....should we mention all the cookies and brownies as well?

Oh, no.  Most assuredly not.  We have our images to keep up.  Onwards to the movie low-down!  (Warning: this is looooong.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ Day One ~

- The Donna Reed Show

This was fun!  I should not be sorry to know it better.

This is one of my very favorite TV shows! However, I haven't time right now to go into detail on why I like it so much so...that's all for now. Just watch it sometime and find out for yourself. ;)

We only watched one episode, and Jeff was grown up. I like him better as a little kid, but it was still fun to watch.

- Penelope

Johhhnnnyyy. And Penelope. and Johnny with Penelope. This movie was ADORABLE. <3

Okay, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie.  I was worried it might be a bit weird for my taste.  But it was actually really fun and the romance was soooooo sweet!!  Yup, I liked it.  :)

This is one of my very favorite movies, so it made me so happy that they liked it, guys.  You don't even know. :')

- Bella 

This was a really sweet movie.  Jose was the BEST!!!  Liked him so much.  


I adore this movie so much and it made me immensely happy that they loved it, too. (And yes. Jose is the literal best. :) :) :))

~ Day Two ~

- A United Kingdom 

Well, not a very productive day movie-wise, I must say. *shakes head*  But I was happy to have gotten to watch this one, since I've been wanting to for a while, and it was new to all of us.  I didn't thoroughly love it, but I have a feeling it might grow on me with a second watching.

This was good, but probably not one I would watch over and over.  I liked the characters, but at the same time I didn't get as emotionally attached to them as I would have liked.  Still good, though.

Same. The couple was adorable and the story very good, but I didn't LOVE this movie or anything. I liked it. (But there was too much confusing political stuff. *cough*) (Or maybe I was just too tired to absorb it. Whatever.)

~ Day Three ~

- BBC Robin Hood 

What I want to know is, if the Sherriff's strong room was that well protected, how did he ever manage to get anything out of it?  ;)

I always love Robin Hood.

We didn't get much of this watched, but it's always good to see my babies again. <333

- This Beautiful Fantastic

*switches intercom on*  "Silence."  I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

I've seen this before, but it was grand seeing it with my fwiends. :D 

I've been wanting to see this ever since Natalie and Olivia reviewed it on their blogs, so it was super fun to be able to watch it with them.  I wouldn't say it made it to my favorites' list, but it was quite good.  (Vernon was my favorite I think.  :))

- Newsies 


*can't decide which lyric to use*  *has identity crisis*  It was so much fun watching this with Natalie and Alyssa. :D

Same.  I had a lot of fun watching this.  It made me want to watch the original movie again though.  

- Napoleon Dynamite

This was gold.  I loved it. xD

This was cheesy.  I hated it.  JUST KIDDING!! It was actually pretty hilarious.  And we've been quoting it ever since.  ;)

I was so afraid of what they'd think of me after watching this movie, so I'm super relieved they enjoyed it. We've been quoting it at each other and even one of Alyssa's brothers who watched it with us. Fun times, y'll.

~ Day Four ~

- Belle 

Another good movie.  Man, there's just too many good movies in this world. I could have used more of John and Dido together but I guess you can't have it all. 

Yay, Alyssa finally got to watch this one!! :D

It was such fun watching this one with Olivia again, as it was the first movie I ever watched with blogging friends--her and Eowyn. And now we got to show Alyssa, too. It's such a beautiful, moving story. <3

~ Day Five ~

- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Umm.....I was curious to watch this again, as I've seen it before a long time ago and didn't care for it very much. I liked it slightly better than I did the first time....*hem hem*.

Yeahhhhhhh . . . watching it through someone else's eyes does drive home how truly terrible it is if you take it seriously.  I mean, I still love it dearly, but . . . yeah.  We kept telling Alyssa's little brothers who were watching it with us that Adam is NOT a man to be emulated.  ;) ;)

Yeah, don't take it seriously.  Just don't.  You'll ruin all the fun of it if you do.  ;)

- The Man Who Invented Christmas

I'd watched this once before, so it was fun watching it again with Natalie and Alyssa and Alyssa's family.  It's really quite an excellent movie, I think.

I've been wanting to see this since it came out, and it was quite enjoyable and quotable and altogether delightful. And Dickens' relationship with his characters was fantastic. "I'm going out.....ALONE." xD  (Also, Alyssa's dad has a reproduction copy of the original publication of A Christmas Carol....it was SO cool to see after watching the movie. It felt like a piece of the movie come to life. :D)

I really enjoyed this movie. It was surprisingly good, and better than I expected. Dickens' interaction with his characters was hilarious...and very creative.

- Priceless 


Very good, indeed.  It was pretty intense and kind of difficult to watch, but I'm glad I did.  *has inarticulate, emotional feelings*

I've been obsessed with For King and Country lately and just watched Priceless myself for the first time. It's super intense and serious, but I love how the story is told and the hope it offers. I'm really glad those two ^^ like it as well. :) 

-YouTube clips of Jesse and Michelle from Full House


So adorable!! <3 <3

I'm so glad these two started fangirling over them, too!  I discovered these clips a month or so ago and quietly died from the sheer adorb.  I NEED THIS SHOW IN MY LIFE.  (But my library doesn't have it. *scowls*  What library doesn't have Full House???!!)

~ Day Six * ~

- Sarah Plain and Tall

I always like this movie and it's always good, but I think it was a bit too quiet of a movie for when we watched it, since we were already rather tired. 

It was sweet, but it was a little too much like Love Comes Softly. I was kind of hoping for something different. And, like Olivia said, it kind of put me to sleep. Almost. :P

Like Love Comes Softly, Natalie? Now, now. That's going a bit too far, don't you think?! ;P Seriously though, I really do like this movie (and I think it's much better than Love Comes Softly...'hem), but I guess I can sort of understand where Natalie's coming from. And yes, it was rather putting us to sleep that day, I have to admit. CALEB IS THE CUTEST CHILD THOUGH! I love him so much! <3 <3

* We also started watching some Boy Meets World episodes, as well as Doctor Thorne.

~ Day 7 ~

(more Boy Meets World and Jesse + Michelle)

~ Day 8 ~

- Doctor Thorne 

I really liked this one. I didn't love it--some aspects of the story and characters seemed hard to connect to--but overall it was fun to watch a sweet, new-to-me period drama. Frank and Mary were super sweet and Dr. Thorne was awesome. Can't wait to show this one to my mom. :)

I enjoyed this, though I had some quibbles.  Tom Hollander as Dr. Thorne was probably the best thing about it, but I also enjoyed seeing some other familiar period drama faces and meeting some new ones.  I was a little confused by some of the "artistic choices" -- the costumes were rather weird sometimes (as Alyssa says, "too many flowers" ;)), and some of the actresses' line delivery was weird too, and some other stuff.  BUT, again, I did enjoy it.  

Ditto to a lot of what Olivia said.  It's hard to describe it exactly but there are definitely some things about this film that could have been improved.  Still it was fun watching it together and it's definitely grown on me since the first time I saw it.  (But yeah, seriously.  Too many flowers.  ;))

At least the flowers make for pretty stills, though.

- Boy Meets World

This is pretty much my favorite TV show at the moment, so it was really fun to be able to share it with my friends. :)

I'm low-key obsessed now. This show is so fun. (Stupid sometimes, yeah.) I can't stop laughing when we watch it. :D 

Love it!  The quotability is strong with this one.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Aside from movies, we've had fun engaging in Many Deep Talks (mostly after midnight *cough cough*), reading each others' writing, singing and playing the piano, playing with Alyssa's little siblings, eating, running thither and yon, attending a dance, attending a Sight & Sound show, taking pictures of ourselves like the vain hussies we are, using far too many Napoleon Dynamite quotes, and, of course, laughing, laughing, laughing.  

(Okay, now it's just me, Olivia, again.  I've taken off the differentiating color.)  Seriously, this trip was SUCH a blessing.  Alyssa and Natalie are the actual best, and Alyssa's whole family was really nice, and everything just connected to make this trip the perfect blend of relaxing, exciting, and healing.  Huge thanks to God for allowing everything to work out, logistically and otherwise, and for giving all of us such wonderful blogging friends -- you all included!!  <3 <3 <3

How are your summers going so far??!!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See {Jennifer Marshall Bleakley}

[I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.]

It's difficult for me to review this book objectively, for a few reasons.

1) It's nonfiction, and I always feel a little bad about judging narratives of things that actually happened, because it feels like I'm blaming the people involved for not having different lives.

2) I lose most of my objectivity when it comes to stories that deal with *SEMI-SPOILERS* animal euthanasia *END OF SPOILERS* because it's far too sensitive a topic for me, for various reasons.

3) Again, since it is a true story, it's difficult to balance appreciation for the themes and events with which it deals with quibbles about writing style, etc.

So, long story short . . . I don't know how to rate this book.  I appreciate the author's faith, and I got through the book relatively quickly, but to be honest, it didn't do much of anything for me.  There were a few good parts that did stand out (like the part when Kim was talking to Sarah about Sarah's past in Ch. 20), but overall, I didn't really like it.  And . . . I don't really know what else to say?  There wasn't really anything bad about this book, except that the writing could be a little stronger.  But even then, I don't know exactly what I would change about the writing -- perhaps just make it less . . . formulaic, maybe?  I don't know what the word I'm searching for is.  All I know is the writing didn't do it for me.

Again, all in all, not a bad book, just not a stellar book either.  I did like how they included pictures and sketches of Joey at the end of the book, though! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Movies: Months in Review {March/April 2018}

Okay, full disclosure: the past two months have not been stellar movie-wise.  I only really loved one of these movies, and most of the others were pretty 'meh' for me, even if they were 'good' historically or technically or whatever.

But, in the span of eternity, that's certainly not a big deal, is it? ;)

Big Fish (2003)

Okay, can I just say that apart from a few things (like the occasional, random nudity, the witch, the language, and the elephant poop), this movie is like 300% my aesthetic and I loved it?!  I mean, Edward Bloom.  ("Ma'am, my name is Edward Bloom, and there's some folks would like to see your eye." << I think that was the exact moment I fell a little bit in love with this character.)

I've liked some of the music from the musical for a while ("Daffodils" is like the cutest, sweetest thing ever, and "Fight the Dragons" is a very fun on-the-road song), so it was fun to finally see the movie. :)

Darkest Hour (2017)

This was very good, but didn't thoroughly captivate me the way I thought/hoped it would.  I'm not really sure why??  Maybe by the time I watched it, I'd already seen so many of these characters/situations in The King's Speech and The Crown, so I was too busy comparing all the different portrayals that I didn't really focus as much as I should have?  Who knows.  I did like watching Churchill, his wife, and Lily James's character.

Joy (2015)

This was . . . kind of strange.  I think the aesthetic is nice -- I'm a little unsure, but I think it is -- but the story itself felt lacking.  I mean, it's based on a true story, and I'm sure "that's very edifying," but . . . personally, I just didn't feel like I gained much of anything after watching it.

(I was also sorry that Joy and her husband divorced -- that's not really a spoiler because you find out about it in the first few minutes of the movies -- because they seemed to really love each other.  But at least they stayed close and did care for each other.)

Queen of Katwe (2016)

I liked seeing the depiction of the African culture and the poverty where Phiona lived, because it's sobering and just kind of helps to put things in perspective for a first-world country dweller, but other than that . . . again, I was kind of underwhelmed, I'm sorry to say?  Maybe it's because I'm not a chess player.

Tangled: Before Ever After (2017)

(Don't judge me. ;-P)  I did like seeing the Tangled characters again, even if I felt like the plot was kind of under-developed and weak.  (And what was that ending??  I have confusion???  Also, is this just part of a TV series??)

The Decoy Bride (2011)

This was harmless (in my opinion), fluffy fun.  It was cool to have a chick-flick set in a Scotch/Irish-type of setting.  It was nothing life-changing, mind you, but it was cute enough. :)

The Post (2018)

I enjoyed watching this, and the acting is good, but I couldn't help but keep comparing it to Spotlight.  See, that was a journalistic investigation movie that really drew me in and made me care.  This one, not so much.  But it did make me determined to learn more about the Vietnam war, since I know practically nothing, which isn't good, all things considered.  (Warning: lots and lots of pretty strong language in this one.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

For anyone who's also struggling with this

(I have SOOO much that I want to say about this topic, but I don't think I can say it all yet, so I wanted to say a little.)

Over the past couple years, especially, God has really been showing me some profound insecurities, misconceptions, and struggles that have lodged themselves in my soul.  He's helping me root them out, but I've got a feeling it will be a years-long process.  They go very deep.

In the midst of discovering my fears, God has showered me with confirmation that they are not unique to me.  I believe these are issues that many of us deal with.  The problem is that we don't talk about them, and that needs to change.

I mean things like:

- perfectionism
- works-based approval (both from God and from others)
- religiosity & legalism

These problems can manifest themselves with symptoms such as:

- inability to believe that you are truly "free in Christ"
- tendency to overanalyze even insignificant thoughts, decisions, etc.
- wondering whether you're idolizing something or someone you deeply love
- inability to let your mistakes go 
- inability to rest in your spiritual life

We're ever striving, striving, striving.  Ever feeling like we haven't quite reached the mark -- like there's a little more we could and should give.  Never feeling like it's okay to say, "That's enough for now"; not wanting to settle down and be at peace or "do something for us" --  something fun and frivolous and "not spiritual" -- because we equate peace (a gift of the Holy Spirit) with complacency, and we believe that being "all in" for God means shunning anything that even slightly resembles satisfaction for our "flesh." 

Forgetting that maybe sanctification is actually a thing and maybe it's actually a process and maybe that's actually okay.  (I mean, were the disciples magically perfect when they received Jesus' call?  A resounding "heck no" to that.  Well, then, did Jesus give up on them in disgust because they weren't instantly perfect?  How about another resounding "heck no".)

Forgetting that "every good and perfect gift comes from above" (James 1:17). 

Forgetting that "God . . . richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17). 

Forgetting that having doubts, questions, and fears doesn't automatically boot you out of the Kingdom.  (Remember Thomas?)

Forgetting that the Spirit gives different people different gifts, and that it's a crying shame when we fool ourselves into thinking our gifts and talents and callings aren't "spiritual" enough (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). 

Forgetting that when Jesus prayed for His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He didn't pray that God would remove our humanity, but that He would purify it (John 17:15).  (Michael Lloyd has great things to say about the whole issue of hating our humanity in his CafĂ© Theology.)

(random bunny because bunnies are happy)

I could go on, but, again, I can't cover it all right now.  Hopefully more will be coming soon over on my other blog (link on my sidebar).

Suffice it to say, for now, that I believe there are lies that the enemy has spoken into our souls, and it's been hurting my heart today to think about how deeply we've fallen for them -- what damage they've caused our mental, emotional, and spiritual psyches, what scars they've left on us.  So I wanted to hopefully speak some truth and love into this kind of situation (and please understand that I need to latch onto this every bit as much as you might).  I think this is one of the main things it comes down to: we haven't really grasped, deep down in our souls, that we -- individually -- are loved by God.  And there is something so broken in the outlook of a Christian who doesn't believe God adores them.

Beauty, please believe that you are loved.

That's what I want to leave you and I with today.  We think we're clinging to God by a thread, and that any mistake or mishap could break it and send us plunging.  We also think that we're the ones doing the running after God, as if He isn't running after us too -- more than that, He was running after us first.  First and always.

So if this is you -- if you struggle with feeling like you never perform well enough for God, if every slip-up has the potential to send you into a whirlwind of self-doubt, if you don't truly believe down in the core of you that God loves you voluntarily and passionately -- please try to believe this instead.  Please allow this message to sink down into your soul and dare to believe that it might be true:

You are not alone and you will not be given up on.  

(P.S. I'm right here trying with you, and I'd love to talk. Please feel free to reach out. We need each other. <3)