It’s the end of another month, which means that I’m once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into and up to this month.
I took two weeks’ vacation, so I got a lot of reading done, mostly YA lit…when you’re in grad school, it’s not vacation if you can’t read a few books that don’t make you think.
- Raised Right by Alisa Harris. I was never raised to be quite as conservative as Harris, but I did empathize with her journey.
- Grave Consequences by Lisa Bergren. I listened to this one on audiobook, because that was the only format the public library had. I am never doing that again. Audiobooks expose romance novels for the bunch cheese that they are. I tend to read for plot and character development and skip the long descriptive passages in books (the sun glistened off her hair as she gazed into his eyes…), but the audiobook didn’t give me that option. Also, the story took place in Europe and the reader’s French and German pronunciation set my teeth on edge, it was so horrific. I do think I’d have enjoyed the book a lot more if I’d just read it.
- The End of Sexual Identity by Jenell Williams Paris. Is straightsplaining a thing? You know, like mansplaining but straight people doing it to gay people instead of men doing it to women? Because it occasionally felt like this book lapsed into that. That being said, I think this book is at its best when speaking to a conservative audience and reminding them that equating heterosexuality with righteousness and homosexuality with sin is simplistic, harmful, and just plain wrong.
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchietta. This was a YA novel set in Australia. I found it difficult to follow at first because it integrated two storylines about 20 years apart, but it wasn’t bad.
- Defiance by C. J. Redwine. This was fantasy, but with some elements of futuristic technology. The heroine is a strong and capable woman in a very misogynistic society, which I can’t help but love (the heroine, not the society, obviously). My one beef with the novel is that the cruel warlord who serves as the chief villain is named Jason, which doesn’t fit him even a little bit. I’m looking forward to the next book. Also, I’m pretty sure I got this suggestion off of one of last month’s What I’m Into posts, though I can’t remember which one. So if whoever read this last month is reading this post, thanks for the suggestion!
- Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu. Loved loved loved these futuristic dystopian novels. They’re set in a futuristic world in which America is divided into two perpetually warring countries. I’m looking forward to the third book coming out.
- Every Day by David Levithan. This one had a fascinating premise. A, the main character, wakes up in a different person’s body every day and falls in love with the girlfriend of one of their hosts. I enjoyed it.
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I hated the narration on this one. It was supposed to mimick the thought process of a thirteen-year-old boy, or something? Anyway, not recommended.
- The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren Destefano. This series was set in a futuristic America where genetic experimentation has gone very wrong and the women die at 20 and the men at 25. The main character, Rhine, is kidnapped and sold into a polygamous marriage. The world-building isn’t always terribly plausible, but I still couldn’t put these books down. Destefano has a way of making you empathize even with characters you want to hate.
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. Again, kick-ass young heroine has adventures and shows everyone how capable she is. I really enjoyed those books, although I’m still trying to figure out the characters’ religion. It’s clearly inspired by Christianity (Catholicism, specifically) and its Scriptures are often straight paraphrases of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, but there is no Christ in this religion. It feels like a pretty significant omission.
- Sneak by Evan Angler. This is book two in a series that attempts to merge end-times thrillers with YA dystopian literature. I still roll my eyes at the whole one world government and mark of the beast schtick, but it’s not bad.
- The CIRCLE books by Ted Dekker. Not the original trilogy, but the six-part YA series. I remember loving the Circle trilogy when I read it in high school, but I did not care for these ones at all, and they kept getting worse. By books 5 and 6, one of the leads was possessed by a vampire woman who talked like Yoda and I pretty much lost all interest.
- A Wideness in God’s Mercy: The Finality of Jesus in a World of Religions by Clark Pinnock. I loved this book. I read it on the drive home from vacation, and I kept stopping to read my favourite passages out loud to Aaron. Basically, I wish I had been born 10-15 years earlier and had the opportunity to study theology at McMaster under Pinnock.
Movies and Plays
- The Little Mermaid. Twice. Because I just found a secondhand copy that didn’t break the bank (curse you, Disney vault, I still want Aladdin). Every song by Sebastian the crab is ridiculously catchy.
- Saved. They added this on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a look. It’s definitely a caricature of the evangelical subculture, but one with more than enough truth in it to provoke some uncomfortable self-examination.
- Star Wars IV: A New Hope. I watched this for the first time because Aaron wanted me to. I’ll probably watch the others too. I’m not crazy about most things set in space (Firefly is the exception) but at least now I’ll know what people are talking about when they reference the movie.
- Wizards of Waverly Place, The Movie. This show was my guilty pleasure during the last half of my undergrad. Don’t judge me.
- All Shook Up. This play, which I saw with my family while on vacation, is an adaptation of Twelfth Night set in the 50s with all Elvis music. The cast was talented and the music was catchy, but it definitely wasn’t my favourite Twelfth Night adaptation. They had Natalie (Viola) cross-dress for the specific purpose of attracting the (presumably straight) male lead, which made absolutely no sense.
- Lilo & Stitch. I actually hadn’t seen this one before. It was cute, and between this and All Shook Up I had Elvis stuck in my head for the better part of a week.
- Blue Like Jazz. I haven’t actually read the book, so I can’t speak to whether or not it does it justice, but it was pretty good.
- Hellbound? Aaron and I watched this documentary on Netflix. My favourite interviewees were Greg Boyd and Robin Parry. I’m not a universalist, but if I were ever to become one it would be because of Parry. He’s clearly chosen his position because it’s where he believes the biblical evidence leads, and I can respect that.
- I’m still going with Drop Dead Diva, although I really hope they wrap it up by the end of this season. I don’t do well with unresolved plot arcs.
- We also caught up on Modern Family and are looking forward to the new season in the fall.
- Finally, I got into The Amazing Race Canada about midway through and I’ve been watching all the back episodes and enjoying them. I was disappointed when Brett and Holly got kicked off last week, although I’m not sure why. I think it’s because Holly always seems to be enjoying herself about as much as I would if I was on the show (read: not one little bit). So far, the only challenge I’ve seen that I think I’d do well at was memorizing four stanzas of Robert Service’s The Shooting of Dan McGrew.
- I made my own chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from scratch, which I was pretty darn proud of. Recipe here
- I gave these bacon peanut butter cookies a try. They’re not bad if you like sweet and salty together. They’re even gluten and dairy free.
- I thought these meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato “frosting” were absolutely adorable. The only downside: my silicone cupcake liners still smell a bit like ground turkey.
- Since it’s peach season here, I also took the time to make an old favourite: cornmeal-coated chicken with peach salsa.
- We also did a fair bit of eating out this month, since it was vacation. My favourites were the lamb burger with brie and rosemary aioli and the steak and mushrooms on potato rosemary bread at the James Joyce Irish Pub in Fredericton, the breakfast skillet at Taste and See in Sussex, and the assortment of grilled meats at Boa Nova in Kitchener.
- Rend Collective. Favourite songs include Build Your Kingdom Here from Homemade Worship by Handmade People and Movements from Organic Family Hymnal
- Brooke Fraser. Brooke has such a lovely voice, and the title track on Flags is hauntingly beautiful.
- Jesus, Firm Foundation. I’m always up for remixed hymn compilations, and overall I quite like this one. There are a few tracks where the new chorus doesn’t really fit with the verses, though.
- Finally, I’ve been loving Gungor’s Beautiful Things album, especially Cannot Keep You.
- Pandemic. I love this because it’s a cooperative board game. Players team up to cure four pandemics that are sweeping the globe, and you need to finish before time runs out or there’s widespread panic across the globe. Aaron and I play this a fair bit by ourselves, and we’ve also introduced several friends to the game. Also, I feel like the premise of this game would appeal to my parents. When I was little, my parents made us call Battleships “Rescue Mission” instead, because they didn’t want us pretending to bomb each others’ ships. This is a very nonviolent game.
- Bohnanza. This is a card game in which players plant and harvest beans. It sounds lame, but it’s really a lot of fun.
- Also, while I was home from vacation my sister and I had the chance to play a round of dominoes with some of the ladies from church, which I always enjoy. I’m convinced that I’m secretly a senior citizen in a 22-year-old’s body.
- I loved this piece from Micah Murray about how being a “friend of sinners” (as opposed to a friend of, you know, people) can be problematic.
- I also agree with this list of reasons why paper books are better than e-books. That’s one bandwagon I intend to avoid as long as possible.
- I also encourage you to look up the hashtag #onetoanother on Twitter to find some great posts on mutual submission in marriage, a topic I’m passionate about.
- Christena Cleveland had a two part series on what she learned about racism and reconciliation in the church.
- I loved this post by Tara Woodard-Lehman on why she needs Church.
- I’ve been struggling lately with the penal substitutionary atonement paradigm and what it implies about God’s character, so I really appreciated this study by Morgan Guyton about what Scripture actually claims Jesus’ blood does.
- I’m seriously encouraged by Preston Sprinkle’s work on nonviolence. It’s nice to see someone from the Reformed camp seriously consider the practical implications of Scripture’s command to love your enemies. Here’s a short piece summarizing what he’s been learning,
- I cheered when I read what Ashleigh Baker over at Deeper Story wrote about her son who loves ballet.
- And finally, just for fun, enjoy these sculptures made from old books and these flags made from countries’ traditional foods.
- Aaron and I got to go home and spend vacation with family for two weeks. Our visit even coincided with a visit from an aunt and uncle from Germany whom I hadn’t seen in 10+ years. It was so great to see everyone and catch up (and spend more time in New Brunswick than in the car this time).
- Happily, the visit coincided with the arrival of a brand new niece, who is absolutely gorgeous :). It’ll be interesting to see how much she’s changed when we go back at Christmastime.
- We also celebrated our second anniversary during the trip, and had a day to ourselves visiting St. Andrews by the Sea. Our last anniversary was rushed because we were about to move cross-country, and it was nice to relax a bit more for this one. We may even have spent part of the evening watching game shows and yelling at the television in our hotel room. Like I said, senior citizen in a 22-year-old’s body.
- A friend of ours from New Brunswick just moved to Waterloo to do her Masters. It’s so nice to have her in town. My secret evil plan is to convince all my friends to go to grad school here.
- And, speaking of grad school, I defended my thesis on the 29th! It’s so nice to be done, sort of. I have this deadline-free weekend to enjoy, and then I start orientation for my PhD next week.
That’s it for me for this month. Feel free to head on over to Leigh’s page and browse the other submissions!