Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Defense of Christian Fiction

 (Warning: I'm about to go on a crazy rant. This is just something that I've been a bit frustrated with lately, especially after reading a post about it on a blog a little while ago.)

 "Christian fiction is not real literature."

 "People who like Christian fiction are not real readers!"

 "This book was good...for a Christian book." 

 "Christian fiction is trash."

  I've heard people say things like this often. I'm sure you have too. The interesting thing about it? Most of the time, it's Christian people saying them.
 Now, I know that there are some not-so-good Christian novels out there. It cannot be denied that a lot of them are cliché and - let's face it - pretty dang cheesy. 

 But here's the thing, and this is really important: Not all of them are like that.

 It's not okay to hate on the whole genre. We shouldn't assume that just because there are a couple super lame ones out there that all of them have to be that way. I mean, there are lame books in every genre.

 There are some wonderful, beautiful treasures in this genre. Sometimes you've just got to look a little harder to find them.

 This year, I'm going to make an effort to seek out and read more Christian Fiction. In the past, I've avoided this genre because it seemed like all the books for teens were romance novels, and usually that's just not my favorite type of book. But recently, through other bloggers and through GoodReads, I've found out about some Christian books that sound right up my alley.

  And now, because gifs express what words cannot, I present to you these gifs that represent my frustration on the matter of Christian-fiction-hate:

 What do you think about this? Agree or disagree? I'd love to hear what you all think.
 And, if you do read Christian Fiction, what is your favorite?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

further up and further in // narnian link-up

“This is the land of Narnia,' said the Faun, 'where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea.” 

 The lovely folks over at The Book Chewers have been hosting a Narnia Month this March. For a Narnia fan like myself, I've loved reading their posts. Earlier this month they posted this link-up, and I decided to join in!

1. Who introduced you to Narnia?
 For as long as I can remember, the books have been on my family's bookshelf. I grew up listening to Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre of The Chronicles of Narnia (which I still listen to often!). It wasn't until I was twelve that I read the books for myself. They become instant favorites. So, answer to the question? My parents and older siblings introduced me to Narnia.

2. How many times did you check the back of your OWN wardrobe for signs of magical life?

 I've never owned a wardrobe that looked cool enough to be a passage into Narnia, but one time, I did check the back of a wardrobe in a beautiful old house my family and I were staying at. I thought that if any wardrobe were to lead me to Narnia, that would be the house I'd find it in - because that house belonged to none other than Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis' own stepson! Did I find Narnia? Maybe! ;)

3. Who's your favourite animal Narnian character?

 Other than Aslan (because duh!), my very favorite talking beast of Narnia is Reepicheep the Mouse. He's chivalrous, fearless, and completely hilarious.

4. Who's your favourite human Narnian character?
 That would have to be Eustace Clarence Scrubb. He starts off as the most bothersome nuisance you'd ever wish to see (which is very amusing), but slowly he becomes an incredibly epic character.

5. If you could fall into one of the seven books, which would you choose?

 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader! That's the Narnian book I love the most, and it has most of my favorite characters. I'd love to be a part of that adventure. I mean, seriously - mysterious islands, dragons, retired stars, and duffelpuds? Can't get better than that.

  6. Which would you rather be: dwarf, talking beast, or marshwiggle?
Probably a talking beast. Maybe a mouse or a squirrel? :)

7. Who do you think had the harder quest? The journey on the Dawn Treader with Prince Caspian? Or Eustace and Jill's trek to find the lost Prince Rilian?
 I'd have to say Eustace and Jill's journey sounds harder. Just think: a whole city of giants wanted to eat them, and then later they get brainwashed in the Underland. Scary stuff people, very scary stuff.

8. Which of the four Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy) do you most relate to?

 I have to cheat with this one and say both Edmund and Lucy.

9. If being out of a family of 4, going to boarding school, and living in England are necessary for having a Narnian adventure, how well do you score?
 Hmmm. Well, I do have three siblings (there's 1 point!), I don't go to a boarding school (0 points), and I live in Ireland, not England - but since this is where C. S. Lewis was from, can pretty please give myself a point for that? ;) If so, then 2/3 points!

  10. Would you sell your soul for Turkish Delight?

 That was super fun. You should do it. And make sure you check out The Book Chewers blog, because it's cool and stuff.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

coffee o'clock

"I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

on my bookshelf: historical fiction

  Over a year ago, when I wrote On My Bookshelf: Fairytale Retellings, my idea was to continue writing posts about a bunch of different genres. Somehow, that never happened. I wasn't a very consistent blogger last year. Now that I've begun blogging a lot more frequently, I decided to start up these On My Bookshelf posts again!

  I decided to start off with historical fiction. Historical fiction has impacted me a lot throughout my life. The stories are so powerful, and they've given me a love for history. Here are some of my absolute favorite books in the historical fiction genre:

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Oh, this book. I wanted to start off with this one, because not only is it my favorite out of all of the books on this list, but it's one of my favorite books of all time. It's about Liesel, a girl growing up in Germany during World War II. It's about her life and the people she meets, and it's about her love for words. It's beautifully written, and the characters touched my heart. This book is brilliant and unforgettable.

Wings like a Dove by Christine Farenhorst

This is one of the Chosen Daughters books - a series of books by several different authers about real Christian girls from throughout history. This one is about Jeanne D'albret, the daughter of the King and Queen of Navarre, and her struggle to decide whether she will keep her Huguenot faith a secret and save her life - or risk everything by standing up for the truth. Definitely worth reading!

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

 Set during the American War for Independence, Chains is about a girl who is seeking her own freedom - from slavery. It's an incredible story, and shows what the war meant to slaves like Isobel. The sequel, Forge, is great as well.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope 

This story starts off when 1950s girl, Peggy Grahame, moves to her family's ancestral estate. She soon finds that there's a mystery surrounding the house - and it involves her Colonial ancestors and the part they played in the Revolutionary War. Super cool book, folks.

Shadow of His Hand by Wendy Lawton

This book is part of the Daughters of the Faith series. This particular one is about Anita Dittman, a Holocaust survivor. She's a wonderful example of a girl who never gives up hope, and always believes, even when imprisoned in a concentration camp, that God has a purpose for everything. Just awesome. 

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Set in 1832, it's about thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle who sets sail across the Atlantic Ocean to be reunited with her family in America. The problem? She's the only passenger on the ship, and the captain and the crew are a dangerous bunch. She ends up trying to solve a mystery, joining the crew, and getting accused of murder. It's a really fun book!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Like The Book Thief, this book made it into my all-time favorites list. It's so amazing. It's about Lina, a Lithuanian girl, and her family. One night her mother, little brother, and herself are loaded into a cattle car and deported to a labor camp in Siberia. It's a powerful story of "extreme suffering, and tremendous hope". I had never read about this part of history before - about Stalin and what he did to the Anti-Soviet people. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.You should also watch this video about it.

 A Separate Peace by John Knowles

 Guess what? This is another World War II novel. I know, there's a lot of them on my list! This is a very thought-provoking book, and it gives a different perspective to the war. It's about a boy's boarding school in New England, and how the war effected the boy's lives. It's deep and sad and lovely.

  And we're done! That was a long list, but there are just so many great historical fiction books out there! 

 Here are two questions for you guys:  Do you like historical fiction? And if so, what are some of your favorites? I'd love to hear about them!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Millionaire's Shortbread

 Millionaire's Shortbread

  These bars are so delicious. They have a flaky, buttery shortbread base, a chewy caramel center, and to top it all off - chocolate. So really, they're like amazingly tasty homemade Twix bars.

  I made them for the first time a little bit ago, and they turned out great. They did take a while because there's quite a lot of steps involved, but it was a really fun project for a Saturday morning.

 I used this recipe. Here's a step-by-step of how I made them:

| The Ingredients Needed |
First, measure out the flour.
Next, add in the butter. A handy tip is to grate in the butter - it makes rubbing it in quicker. If you have a food processor, you could use that for this step.
Rub in the butter until it's breadcrumb-texture. Then, add in the sugar.
Place the mixture in a tin lined with parchment paper and firmly press down. It needs to really packed in, and evenly distributed.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Now for the caramel layer! Heat the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan. Don't let it burn - keep stirring! Increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. The caramel will thicken and turn golden-brown. YUM.
Once that's ready, allow it to cool for a few minutes...
...and then pour it over the shortbread base.
At last, it's time for the chocolate layer. Melt the chocolate (I used a mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate) in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Let the chocolate cool slightly before pouring it onto the caramel-and-shortbread. Make sure the caramel layer has cooled and has set-up.

And you're done! The chocolate takes a while to harden, but you can put it in the fridge to speed it up. I recommend cutting the shortbread into small squares, because it is very rich. (Get it? Rich? Because it's Millionaire's Shortbread? Best. Pun. Ever.)

 Have you baked anything new lately? I'd love to get some ideas from all of you!