Tuesday, December 31, 2013

top 13 books of 2013

 The year 2013 is coming to a close. Overall, it's been a great year. I didn't accomplish all the different kinds of goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year, but I worked on them - and I think that's important.

 It's been a great year book-wise, too. I read a lot of wonderful stories. I originally set a goal to read 75 books, but I very soon realized that just wasn't a realistic amount, so I changed it to 60 books. It turned out to be the perfect amount for me. I just completed the goal this morning (just on time!).

 I decided to share with you guys what my favorites were. These are the 13 books that really stuck out to me out of the 60 read books. If you're looking for book recommendations (I know I always am!), I definitely recommend each of these lovely books:

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  4. Emma by Jane Austen
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  6. The Hero and the Crown by Jane Austen
  7. Cinder by Robin McKinley
  8. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  9. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  10. The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
  11. Artemis Fowl and The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
  12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  13. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

You can check out my Goodreads Reading Challenge page here to check these (and the other books I read) out!

 Did any books you read this year become new favorites? I'd love to hear about them!

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

catching fire, frozen, and the desolation of smaug

  I haven't been blogging for several weeks - partly because I've been working on a project for this blog (which I'll post soon!) and partly because life's been a bit busy recently. But today, I decided to do three mini-reviews of some great movies I've seen in the last few weeks:

 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

 I'd been excited for this movie for a long time. Because I loved the first movie, I expected this one to be great - and it turned out even better than I expected. I was blown away by it! Here are a few things I liked about it:
 - I really appreciated how faithfully it stuck to the book. 
 - It was visually beautiful. The sets and locations were perfect, and the special effects were really good.
 - The plot had it's touching moments, terrifying moments, and moments that made me laugh out loud.
 - All the actors did a fantastic job. The new characters introduced (particularly Finnick and Johanna) were brilliantly done.
 - The film score (composed by James Newton Howard) is beautiful.
 - The ending was so intense! Actually, the whole movie was intense...but that ending though!

 I loved Catching Fire, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again!


 What an adorable movie! It instantly became a new favorite Disney movie for me. The main characters were so lovable, I cannot stop listening to and singing all the songs, and the story was so touching and sweet. And oh, the animation was breathtaking.
 Frozen was unique and different than any other Disney Princess movie, but it certainly still had that Disney feel to it!

 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 Where do I start? I just watched this last night so this review may not be very coherent and may involve some all-caps...BECAUSE IT WAS JUST SO WONDERFUL! (oops, there I go...)
 Let's make this clear: I loved the first Hobbit movie. But I didn't like it near as much I liked The Lord of the Rings trilogy (my favorite movies of all time). And I was okay with that, because how could any movie ever come close to those? But guys: this one came seriously close. Peter Jackson still has it!
 I could fangirl about this for ages - about how beautiful everything looked (especially Lake Town and the Woodland Realm!), and how perfectly the story played out, and about how much I love the characters. But I'll just say this: you need to see this movie!

Have you seen any of these movies? If so, what did you think?


Friday, November 8, 2013


// part three//
 We now come to the last section of my adventure in the beautiful country of Switzerland. 
 We left Les Diableret and headed (more train rides!) to the city of Geneva, where we were to stay with a missionary family we knew. 
 They gave us a tour of Geneva. It was amazing.

  Our first stop: Calvin's Cathedral - Cathedrale Saint-Pierre.
  Just like at the Cathedral in Zurich, we got to climb up the steps (150 this time!) to see a wonderful view of the city.

 We left there and walked around the city for a bit. It's such a lovely city - it made me think of the pictures I've seen of Paris.

 |Calvin's Fountain|
 |The Reformation Wall|

  Too soon it was time to leave and go to the family's house we were staying at. It wasn't in Switzerland, but across the border - in France! I was excited to cross another country off my list, although of course, all I really saw of France was this lovely view from their house:

 The next morning we were on our way to the airport to fly home to Ireland, and thus ended our adventure in Switzerland.

 I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to visit this wonderful country. I really hope to go back some day.

 love, Hannah

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the book thief

 "It's just a small story, really, about, among other things:
- A girl
- Some words
- An accordionist
- Some fanatical Germans
- A Jewish fist fighter
- And quite a lot of thievery"

 Earlier this month I read  The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did.

 It's one of those books that's hard to talk about. I don't know how I would put into words what about it made it so great. I'll simply say that this book broke my heart a hundred times over and it's one of the best books I have ever read. 

 I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the book, and some photographs that reminded me of the story (some are from the movie that's coming soon).

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter.”

"The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”  

"The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you."

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.” 

"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

 Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? If you haven't read it...then I'd definitely recommend you do so.

love, Hannah

Sunday, October 27, 2013

les diablerets


// part two//
   The next day it was time to leave Zurich and head for Les Diablerets, where the conference was held.

   After a long day of train rides (which I enjoyed a lot), we finally made it.

 a few facts about Les Diablerets:
- it's a small village
- it's surrounded by mountains
- it's in french-speaking part of Switzerland
-it's filled with the coolest wooden houses ever
- it's one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I've ever been to

   My mom and I got to stay in Les Diablerets for a whole week. My days were full of conference sessions, schoolwork in the hotel room, exploring the village, hikes in the woods, and a lot of photo-taking.

 At the end of the week, it was hard to say goodbye to this place. As the train pulled away from the station, I knew one thing.
 I'm going to come back someday.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013


// part one //

  After a day of traveling, my mom and I made it to Switzerland. Specifically, to a town called Bülach not far outside Zurich city. It was a cute, small-ish town, and we stayed with a friend of ours. The next day we took a train into Zurich. I loved the train ride - it was so fun to get to see a bit of the beautiful countryside.

 |top: train station in Bülach. bottom: the zurich train station.|

 Once we reached Zurich, we picked up a map from the Tourist Service and began on a walking route that would take us through Old Town to see a bunch of the famous landmarks. 

a few facts about Zurich: 
- it's the largest city in Switzerland. 
- it's in the German-speaking section. 
- there are amazing cathedrals everywhere you look.
 - the Limmat River runs through the city from the beautiful Lake Zurich.
 - there are cute little sidewalk cafés everywhere

 The weather was sunny and warm - just perfect for walking around the city. One of best parts for me was  looking into the shop windows and little bakeries and seeing all the different things they sold.

 After a while we came to the place that I had been really excited to get to see - the Grossmünster Cathedral. This was the cathedral where the famous Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, preached.

 The inside was awesome, but unfortunately there was a big "No Photography" sign at the door. Bleh.

 Inside, we climbed up the 187 steps to the top of one of the towers. Climbing those winding steps may not have been that fun, but the view from up there was worth it.

 Before long it was time to hop on the train back to Bülach.

 Zurich is a such beautiful city and I'm so glad to have gotten to visit it.