Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Neck of the Woods

What I'm Reading: I just finished Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and I'm currently reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (both on my 2015 Reading Challenge list).

Y'all. I can't even count how many times I've read EE, and I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "I probably won't love it as much as I did the last 15094 times I've read it...", and I can't tell you how many times I close the book and think to myself, "OHMYGOSH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH WHY WHY WHY IS IT SO AMAZING *HEARTEYEEMOJI*!!!!!" So, there's that.

This time, I listened to EE on audiobook - highly recommend! It just brings the book to life. The entire time I was listening to it, I just kept thinking about how amazing this book would be as a movie. And then I would remember that they did make a movie out of it, and it was terrible - minus Hugh Dancy as Char - because they were not true to the book at all. So. Does anyone know any fancy producers that would like to re-make the movie to be true to the book? Much appreciated.

Why, I'd love to call you Char...
I would like you to know, Char, that I always say "Thank you" to chivalry...
You can sweep me off my feet anytime...
What I'm Watching: Surprisingly, I am not watching Ella Enchanted, the movie (just the gifs, apparently). Since all my TV shows are on their winter break right now (why do they do that to me?!), I'm currently binge watching Criminal Minds via syndicated marathons. It's gotten to the point where I'm watching the same episodes that I already saw earlier in the week, which I guess means it's time to find another hobby. Any other good recommendations?

What's Happenin': I traveled back home to spend Christmas with my family, which meant that I was off work for a whole week - I love my job, but sometimes you just need a vacation! I came back to work for two days before NYE, and rang in the New Year with Stardust and Larissa! We celebrated New Year's Day by cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes in their Sugar Bowl win! The odds were not in OSU's favor so I didn't want to get my hopes up, so when they did win, I may or may not have cried a wee bit.

Oldie but rocking my Buckeye pride with my Buckeye seester.
And then... the plague hit. That's what I'm going to call it, because I've officially been away from work for a week. It's like my body says, "Oh, I'm tired of being sick in this way, so let's try something new!" WHO KNOWS. This means that I've had many opportunities to scour the TV schedule for when the next Criminal Minds episode is (there's only one today, how will I live?!), sleep 12+ hours a night, and figure out ways to pass the time when my cable and internet go out for hours on end (hair braiding, y'all). My deepest thoughts have been trying to decide if it's socially acceptable to go to bed at 7:30 pm (consensus: it is), so I'm really hoping that my body is on the mend so I can get back to "real life".

Link It Up:

The 2015 Reading Challenge - Modern Mrs. Darcy also set forth a reading challenge for 2015, and I think I'm going to try to check off all her categories in my own reading challenge! Here's to reading in 2015!

Ideas for Friday Abstinence - Jenna at Call Her Happy shares some great ideas for your Friday fast besides giving up meat. There's some great ideas on there for those Fridays where you just need that burger!

Ignitum Today - I've been editing posts for Ignitum Today! Head on over to read all the great things that I'm privileged to have come into my inbox each week!

What's happening in your neck of the woods? Share with me in my sickness-induced boredom!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

5 Most Memorable Reads of 2014

Yesterday, I issued myself a reading challenge for 2015. I know the first thought in all of your minds was "But Liesl, what were some of your favorite things that you read this past year?!"

Just roll with me, ok? You thought it, even if you didn't, alright?

These are 5 books that I read in 2014 that really stuck with me, both while I was reading them and long after. Just in case you want to join me on my reading challenge, you can add these beauties to your list.*



Something Other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler - I'm pretty sure that every person in the Catholic world has at least heard of this book, if not read it, by now, but in case you haven't, this highly anticipated memoir lives up to the hype! Her memoir is very readable and will have you laughing and turning the pages quickly to see what's next. I highly recommend this for Catholics and non-Catholics. Of course, the highlight of reading this beauty was getting to hear Jen speak and meet her in person!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - I have a slight obsession healthy fascination with 1900s England and WWII fiction, so I was excited to pick up this book. What I didn't expect was that I would be constantly thinking about when I could continue reading this book when I had to sit it down to do - you know, real life things - and how much it would make me think. Not only is the writing beautiful, but it really makes you ponder how events in our lives are linked together... and what could happen if you had the opportunity to go back and do it again.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett - I wrote here that Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors and that I've never read something from her that didn't completely suck me in... and she did it again with Liars! I love how she develops the relationships of all of her characters, and I especially enjoyed the nuns in this novel.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton - I've enjoyed all of Kate Morton's novels, each of them set in historical England, but this one is my favorite by far. She weaves English culture, history, and an engrossing mystery into each of her novels, and I loved the mystery that took me deep into WWII England in this one. While I did figure out the ending a little bit before the ending, her writing and characters kept me just as engrossed in the book as ever.

The Likeness by Tana French - I wasn't the biggest fan of French's first novel in this series - In the Woods - so I picked up this next one in the Dublin Murder Squad series with hesitation. I'm glad that I did though, because this one was so much better than the first, probably because I actually liked the main character, Cassie. The mystery kept me intrigued and the vivid characterization of each of the players kept me enthralled even after I figured out the whodunit. Unfortunately, I think it helps to read the first book in the series to have an understanding of Cassie's mindset, but good comes out of suffering, right?

What are some of your favorite books that you read in 2014?

*Just realized that all of these books are authored by women. Totally not on purpose, but girl power, ladies!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Reading Challenge

I've always been an avid reader - I was that kid who easily read 50 books over summer vacation. Now that I'm a big girl, unfortunately I do not have time to read 50 books over the summer, let alone in a year!

This past year, I read a large number of books, partly thanks to spending many hours on planes and trains, but I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to read, instead of just reading!

So, for 2015, I'm going to give myself a little challenge. My goal is to read at least 20 books this year, from classic literature to spiritual reads to fiction books that are hot, hot, hot right now.

I've made a list of some books that I'd like to read to get myself started, and I'd love to hear your suggestions too! Tell me what needs to make my list in the comments!

So, self, do you accept this reading challenge?!




Classics

The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Kid Lit

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (re-read) (listening to the audiobook now!)
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews (re-read)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Dune by Frank Herbert (I've tried before and failed... I shall try again!)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Non-Fiction

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Spiritual Reads

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Walking with Mary by Edward Sri (re-read)

Mystery/Thriller

The Expats by Chris Pavone
The Accident by Chris Pavone
Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Top Pick Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (reading now!)
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Links are Amazon Smile links - please select your favorite charity when you shop!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Lord is with you

It's very fitting that on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the story of the Annunciation.

The angel Gabriel greets Mary with, "Hail, full of Grace! The Lord is with you." But what does this mean, to be full of grace? What does it mean for the Lord to be with you?

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The answers to these questions aren't easy - even Mary was "greatly troubled" and "pondered" their meaning.

When Mary told the angel to let it "be done according to your word", she said yes to being with God, yes to being full of grace.  Her yes affirmed this greeting - just as when we say yes to God, we are filled with His grace.

Just as John the Baptist cried out to prepare the way of the Lord, Advent is a time for us to truly prepare ourselves to be with the Lord.

We can never carry the Lord like Mary did, because she literally and physically had Him with her - she carried Him in her womb. We can, however, be "pregnant" with Christ by carrying him in our hearts.

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The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. God chose to come into the world through Mary, through her yes. Let us pray that in this last week of Advent, we will say yes to the ultimate Christmas gift and also share God with the world by carrying his grace in our hearts.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#5Favs: Christmas Albums Edition

Linking up with Jenna!

We all love Christmas music. But let's admit it - with every pop singer ever to grace this earth releasing a Christmas album, some Christmas music is absolutely terrible. Lucky for you, I've scoured near and far to weed out the bad and find the good. Here are my five favorite Christmas albums, that I can pretty much listen to straight through, from start to finish.

*1*

You know how when you've listened to a CD too much, it gets all scratched up from too many plays and then doesn't play anymore? Well, that happened to this CD. After about a year. Because I listened to it year-round. I love MercyMe's music, but their Christmas album is absolutely amazing. They take many classic Christmas tunes and introduce more upbeat tempos ("Silent Night"), a different musical tune ("Gloria"), spine-tingling harmonies ("O Holy Night"), and/or beautiful instrumentals ("It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Little Drummer Boy"). Don't miss their heart-warming original - "Joseph's Lullaby" - either. Actually, you should probably just start on track one and listen the whole way through.

*2*

Amy Grant has many Christmas albums out there, and I have to admit that I haven't listened to them all, because I love this one so much. I grew up listening to this album, making sure to listen to "The Night Before Christmas" on repeat on Christmas Eve. Other note-worthy songs include "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" (perfect for Advent and even year-round!), "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", and "Joy to the World/For Unto Us a Child is Born".

*3*

Like most of their albums, Relient K's Christmas album is very punny, which means it's especially fun for the young and young-at-heart. Many of your classic favorites are also given a fun and upbeat spin, a la Relient K style. My personal favorites include "Angels We Have Heard on High", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", and "In Like a Lion (Always Winter)" (perfect for Advent).

*4*

This is a classic, people. Just click play and sit back and soak up the joy of the season. I especially love the always wonderful "White Christmas", the fun and upbeat "Jingle Bells", the classic "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas", and the timber tones of "Silver Bells".

*5*

I've tended to notice that Christian artists make really great Christmas albums. Casting Crowns' album is no different. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", "O Come All Ye Faithful", and "Joy to the World" are some of my favorites that are on repeat, while "Christmas Offering" and the gorgeously instrumental "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" may soon join the constant-repeat list.


What are your favorite Christmas albums? 
Tell me now so I can soak up all their goodness this season!

*Links provided are for Amazon Smile - select your favorite charity and start shopping!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#5Favs: These are a Few


I'm going to keep it simple for my first time linking up with Jenna, and just share with you all a few of my favorite things...

~ 1 ~

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~ 2 ~


~ 3 ~

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~ 4 ~

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~ 5 ~

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~*~

If I could pick one more, it would probably be snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be a Window - Over at Ignitum Today!

I am so excited to be working now with Ignitum Today! I will be editing posts as well as writing some posts of my very own from time to time. Please head on over to my very first post over there, and give me some love! Here's a little sneak peak...


Have you ever met someone who just seems to radiate Christ with every fiber of his or her being; where you can just see their love for God reflecting from their bodies? It's a sort of aura, a glow, that just emanates out and has the profound power to draw people in. It's a joy that is shown in a wide smile, loud laughter, a twinkle in the eye, a warm hug, finding happiness on even the darkest of days.

This kind of love is so much more than glorifying God with your body. As St. Paul wrote, this kind of love is glorifying God in your body (1 Cor 6:20)...

Read more at Ignitum Today...

Westminster Cathedral, London, England

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