Thursday, February 08, 2018

Book Review: A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1) by Madeleine L'Engle

A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1) by Madeleine L'Engle
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1971 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars 

I loved this book so much! And reading this reminds me of how much I love Madeleine L'Engle and how much I want to read (and re-read) everything she wrote!

I shouldn't really be surprised given how much I love L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time books. And this book gives us her thoughts on everything from theology, writing, children’s education, writing books for children vs. adults, and more.

There is also encouragement here for those who want to see their own books published: A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times before it was published!
"A Wrinkle in Time was almost never published. You can’t name a major publisher who didn’t reject it. And there were many reasons. One was that it was supposedly too hard for children. Well, my children were 7, 10, and 12 while I was writing it. I’d read to them at night what I’d written during the day, and they’d say, “Ooh, mother, go back to the typewriter!” A Wrinkle in Time had a female protagonist in a science fiction book, and that wasn’t done. And it dealt with evil and things that you don’t find, or didn’t at that time, in children’s books. When we’d run through forty-odd publishers, my agent sent it back. We gave up." - L'Engle
And even though this was published in 1971 there are some parts that feel as though they could have been written this year:
“This sense of urgency has always been with my children, and those I work and talk with. They’ve grown up knowing that at any moment we could blow up our planet if some madman pushes the wrong button.” - L'Engle
“….we were listening to the news and when the weather report was announced he said, “Storms tomorrow. If there is a tomorrow.” - L'Engle
But I think the parts that resonated with me the most were where she talks about her own doubts in the midst of faith:
"I found myself earnestly explaining to the young minister that I did not believe in God, 'but I've discovered that I can't live as though I didn't believe in him. As long as I don't need to say any more than that I try to live as though I believe in God, I would very much like to come to church--if you'll let me.” - L'Engle
“The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.” - L'Engle
I'll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from this book on writing:
"If a writer says he doesn’t care whether he is published or not, I don’t believe him. I care. Undoubtedly I care too much. But we do not write for ourselves alone. I write about what concerns me, and I want to share my concerns. I want what I write to be read. Every rejection slip—and you could paper walls with my rejection slips—was like the rejection of me, myself, and certainly or my amour-propre. I learned all kinds of essential lessons during those years of rejection, and I’m glad to have had them, but I wouldn’t want to have to go through them again." - L'Engle
"Of course. It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said, by me, ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die." - L'Engle
A Circle of Quiet Purchase Links: PaperbackKindle Edition, Audible Audiobook

View all my book reviews

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Top Ten Books That Have Been on My TBR List the Longest and I Still Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been on My TBR List the Longest and I Still Haven't Read


As of this moment I have 2278 books marked as Want to Read on Goodreads... And even though I first joined Goodreads in 2007, I didn't start using it actively until January of 2012, so that is when most of these were marked as "want to read" on there.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (unabridged) - I read an abridged version in 8th and 9th grade and loved it. So I've been wanting to read the unabridged version for quite some time.

2. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

3. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas - I remember seeing the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in it when I was in high school and I've wanted to read the book ever since then.

4. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton - Chesterton was a big influence on C. S. Lewis and so I've wanted to read more of his books for a long time.

5. Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards, #2) by N. D. Wilson - I remember reading a post that said readers who loved Lewis/Narnia would enjoy this series so I decided to give it a try. The first book was okay, but I never got around to finishing the series. I even re-read book 1 in 2016 to refresh my memory so I could read books 2 and 3 and I still didn't finish the series!

6. The Chestnut King (100 Cupboards #3) by N.D. Wilson

7. The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams - this author was one of the Inklings (C. S. Lewis's group of writer friends), and so of course I have wanted to read some of his books for a long time too.

8. Descent into Hell by Charles Williams

9. The Austin Family Chronicles by Madeleine L'Engle, books 2-5 (I read book one in 2015.) I simply love Madeleine L'Engle! I'm reading the first book of her Crosswicks Journals now, A Circle of Quiet, and it is delightful.

10. The Magicians Series by Lev Grossman - I don't remember how I heard of this one, but the premise intrigued me.

(yes, I realize I already listed ten, but I wanted to include this one too...)

11. The Monster in the Hollows (The Wingfeather Saga, #3) by Andrew Peterson - I'm pretty sure this series was also recommended for fans of Lewis/Narnia in the same post that was recommending the 100 Cupboards series.


What books have been on your TBR list the longest?




Friday, February 02, 2018

What I'm Into (January 2018)

Read and Reading (December and January since I never did a post like this for December...)

Finished in December:
See all the books I read in 2017 here. and check out my deliciously nerdy year-end book stats post here: My Year in Books: 2017 (Book stats, and graphs, and charts, oh my!)

Finished in January:
  • Light Falls: Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein by Brian Greene (1/2/18)
  • The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia (1/7/18)
  • Legion by Brandon Sanderson (1/9/18)
  • Skin Deep (Legion #2) by Brandon Sanderson (1/17/18)
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (1/23/18)
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1/29/18)
  • Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News by Brian Zahnd (1/31/18)
Connect with me on Goodreads to see what I am currently reading and keep track of the books you are reading, have read, and want to read: Jennifer's Goodreads Profile

    TV

    • This is Us is still breaking my heart but also it's so good and gives me all the feels! (Not just the sad ones!) 

    • I'm a little behind on my superhero shows and I haven't checked out the new one, Black Lightning, yet. I guess I'm only one episode behind on The Flash, and I gotta say, I'm not loving the recent plot developments with Barry...



    • You know what show I"m not behind on though? STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!!! HOLY COW! All the twists and turns! I've had so much fun with this show and not seeing any of the big revelations coming!




    • I've finished the fourth season of Will and Grace now. And I just binge-watched all of this season's episodes of Modern Family. And of course I'm still keeping up with The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. =)
    • The Good Place - I need to get back into this one. The episodes I have watched made me laugh.
    • I thought about checking out "The Resident" because it has 2 actors I like: Logan from Gilmore Girls (Matt Czuchry) and Amy from Everwood/Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke from Revenge (Emily VanCamp)... but I don't do medical dramas. At all. They are just not my thing... 
    Movies

    These are the movies I have seen in the theater using my MoviePass in December and January:



    Out of all of those, my absolute favorite, hands down, was The Greatest Showman. I've actually seen that twice in the theater (so far!). Of course I also saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December, but not using MoviePass. And I really enjoyed that movie too of course.

    This is how I have ranked all of the 2017 movies I have seen:
    (I've been using letterboxd.com to track and rate the movies I've seen. Think Goodreads for movies.)

    Music

    I have been obsessed with the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman ever since I saw the movie the first time on December 29!

    I can't watch this video of Keala Settle singing "This is Me" without tearing up:


    And I love this video of Hugh Jackman singing when he wasn't supposed to because he just couldn't help himself!


    Podcasts

    I'm always and forever ridiculously behind on all of the podcasts I want to listen to...

    But I have been one of a few people to be part of a panel on the recent episodes of John Weldy's Reclaiming Christianity podcast.

    As I mentioned in November, I started an online Theology Book Club where we can read and discuss books like What is the Bible? by Rob Bell, and Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd.

    This was/is the schedule thus far:
    December: What is the Bible? by Rob Bell
    January: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd
    February: Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism by Deborah Jian Lee
    March: Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found it Again Through Science by Mike McHargue
    April: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns
    May: TBD
    June: TBD
    July: Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans
    (I am REALLY excited to read Rachel's new book!)

    Other potential future picks may include:
    The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns
    Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
    The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald
    A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel by Bradley Jersak
    Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey
    Adam and the Genome by Scot McKnight
    Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence by Greg Boyd

    If those books sound like your cup of tea and you would like to join the Facebook Group you can click here to email me. Or click over to the Theology Book Club page and fill out the contact form at the bottom. In addition to the online discussion within the group, we also have monthly (and weekly for those who are interested) chats where people can participate by talking over the voice channel (using Discord), or they can choose to just listen and engage via text if they so wish. I'm really excited about this! (It is related to John Weldy's podcast because he has been helping me organize things for the group and even had a vision to make one of the weekly chats part of his podcast going forward.)

    Instagram
    You can follow me on Instagram @jenniferneyhart.

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    On the Blog

    My Year in Books: 2017 (Book stats, and graphs, and charts, oh my!)
    Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Read
    Top Ten Books I Liked but Can’t Remember Much About

    This post is linked up with What I'm Into at Leigh Kramer.


    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Read

    Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Read


    I was struggling to come up with 10 books for this category until I read more from the prompt which suggested that they could be books that were out of your comfort zone or guilty pleasures you're embarrassed to admit you read. So here is my list:

    1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, read in 2013
    1088 pages! And so many footnotes/end-notes! I highly doubt I will ever feel the need or desire to read this one again.

    2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, read in 2011
    I hated this book. Such a waste of time.

    3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
    4. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
    5. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
    6. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

    The Twilight Series. More than once. File these under guilty pleasure.

    7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

    I really don't like these books or movies very much. They are much too dark and depressing for my taste and I hate the ending of the third book.

    10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    Usually I'm not into reading books or watching movies that are going to make me sad. But I actually ended up liking this book quite a lot. I'll probably read it again at some point.

    This actually reminds me of those Lurlene McDaniel books about kids with cancer that I was obsessed with in middle school? high school? I don't remember. But I also don't know why I was morbidly obsessed with those books - so they should be on this list too, lol!

    Bonus: All 13 books in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
    I really did not enjoy these but I kept going because I stubbornly just wanted to finish the series.




    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    Top Ten Books I Liked but Can’t Remember Much About



    Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Liked But Can’t Remember Much About


    1. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, read in 2013
    I remember that I loved this book when I didn't initially expect to do so. I definitely want to read this again soon.

    2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, read in 2012
    I don't remember anything about this book. But I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads at the time, so I must have liked it. (I just realized this is only $1.99 on Kindle right now! 1/23/18)

    3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read in 2011
    I remember the basic premise of this book, and the fact that I enjoyed it, but that's about it. So I'll have to re-read it I suppose. =)

    4. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, read in 2004 (no wonder I don't remember anything about this book!)
    I read this for my class on Adolescent Literature in college (My degree was in Middle Grades Education: English and Social Studies)

    5. Holes by Louis Sachar, read in 2004
    This was also for that class on Adolescent Literature and again, I don't really remember anything about it.

    6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, read in 2004?
    According to Goodreads I read this in 2004. And I know I have read this book, but I don't remember reading it in college... And I don't remember much about it either other than it is a dystopian novel. So I'm here's another one to add to my "want to re-read" list.

    7. Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, read in 2005
    I remember that I loved the movie... (which I saw first and then read the book) I don't remember how the book differed from the movie... so yeah, I'm going to need to re-read this one too!

    8. The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan read in 2011
    9. The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2) by Rick Riordan read in 2012
    10. The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3) by Rick Riordan read in 2013
    11. The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan read in 2014
    12. The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan read in 2014

    Basically, I'm going to have to re-read all five of these books... I know I liked them, but I don't remember the details... or the basic plot points... What I wouldn't give to be able to remember everything I read perfectly!

    And yes, I realize I listed 12 instead of 10, but I didn't want to list some, and not all of The Heroes of Olympus series.

    So what about you? What books did you like but can no longer remember much about?

    Wednesday, January 03, 2018

    2017 Movies

    I love movies. I love going to the theater to watch my favorite kind of movies on the big screen, especially if I can go to a movie theater that has recliners! I love watching movies with friends and family and talking about them afterwards. My favorite movies are probably almost all in the fantasy or sci-fi genre, as you can see from the lists below. I love almost all of the superhero movies. (Again, you will see a theme here.) So here I present a list of the 2017 movies I have seen so far, ranked from "favorite" to "meh", along with the ones I still want to see. (Side note: What a great year for superhero movies!)

    Several of these movie titles now link to my very short mini-reviews on letterboxd.com. Feel free to add me on there if you are on there. (I highly recommend it if you like to watch a lot of movies. It's like Goodreads for movies.)

    Favorite Movies of 2017 (definitely want to re-watch)

    1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    2. Wonder Woman
    3. Justice League
    4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
    5. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2
    6. Thor: Ragnarok
    7. The Greatest Showman
    8. Blade Runner 2049
    9. The Post
    10. Wonder
    11. The Shack

    Good-Decent Movies of 2017 (would probably re-watch):
    12. Beauty and the Beast
    13. Pitch Perfect 3
    14. The Man Who Invented Christmas
    15. Downsizing
    16. Lady Bird
    17. The LEGO Batman Movie
    18. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
    19. The Case for Christ
    20. Marshall

    Meh (Probably wouldn't want to watch again):
    21. Call Me by Your Name
    22. Everything, Everything
    23. The Circle
    24. The Shape of Water
    25. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

    ***

    Movies I definitely want to see:
    • Logan 
    • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
    • Gifted
    • The Big Sick
    • Battle of the Sexes
    • Stronger
    • Coco
    Not sure if I want to see: 
    • Baby Driver
    • Wonder Wheel
    • Goodbye Christopher Robin
    • A Dog's Purpose
    • A Bad Mom's Christmas
    • Murder on the Orient Express
    • Daddy's Home 2
    • Power Rangers


    Thursday, December 28, 2017

    My Year in Books: 2017 (Book stats, and graphs, and charts, oh my!)

    Yes, I keep a spreadsheet of the books I read throughout the year. Yes I realize that takes my nerdiness to a whole new level. I am good with that. =)
    Number of books read: 84
    Well, I did not hit my original goal of reading more books than last year (141), or my modified goal of reading at least 100 books. I hit a major reading slump back in the summer and didn't really recover much until the last couple of months. So I'm debating between setting my 2018 goal back to 100 or 120, which would be about 10 books a month. I'll probably set it at 120 and drop it if I need to as the year progresses.

    Number of pages read: 18,646

    Average Length: 222 pages (There were some short stories in there that brought that number down a bit.)

    This is part of the graphic Goodreads compiled for me

    My average rating makes sense when I look at the breakdown:

    Mode of reading:
    Audiobook (60), Ebook (16), Print (8)
    Book Genres:
    C. S. Lewis Studies: 17
    Inklings: 3
    Seminary: 11
    Theology: 8
    Spiritual: 3
    Science Fiction: 12
    Fantasy: 13
    Fiction: 12
    Non-Fiction: 5

    For this chart I grouped Seminary, Theology, and Spiritual together as "Theology", and I put the Inklings in with C. S. Lewis.
    But then I decided I wanted to see what that would look like if I put the C. S. Lewis books into their actual genre instead of separating them out:
    What can I say? I like charts and graphs! =)
    Male/Female Authorship:
    Female: 17
    Male: 67

    Like I said last year, I really want to even out this statistic, but it is harder than you might think when you are also focused on reading in C. S. Lewis studies and Theology...
    Pac-man?
    Books Read Per Month:
    Here you can really see that reading slump I was talking about. I didn't finish one single book in the months of June and July! Only one in August and September, and zero in October! I finally got my reading mojo back in November and December and tried to make up for lost time!
    Read vs. Re-reads:
    First time read: 61
    Re-read: 23

    Yes, I modified my goal on Goodreads so I could complete the reading challenge.


    (HT to @PaperFury on the idea to use Canva to make my charts this year. They look much better than the screenshots of excel that I used last year.)