Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books." It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes. (via)

This is the second time I read Pride and Prejudice. Upon this second reading, I found out that I liked this book even more than thought I did. I guess that's what happens with the classics, they only improve with time. So here are some of my favorite quotes: 
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.
“That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy.”
I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!” “I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy. “Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”
“Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” “And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?” “The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.
There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.
Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours: whenever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.
Mr. Darcy’s letter she was in a fair way of soon knowing by heart. She studied every sentence; and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different.
But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good-will which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude;—gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection.
She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on the renewal of his addresses.
She was convinced that she could have been happy with him, when it was no longer likely they should meet.
Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her.
For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him,—proud that in a cause of compassion and honour he had been able to get the better of himself.
She was in no humour for conversation with anyone but himself; and to him she had hardly courage to speak.
If he is satisfied with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my affections and hand, I shall soon cease to regret him at all.
Such I was, from eight to eight-and-twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.”
My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you love me. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Reading Challenge [check]

Last week of November. This year is coming to an end soon (maybe too soon?) and this makes me get out my New Year's Resolution for 2014 and check out the things that I managed to complete and try to still complete the things that were left out (or forgotten, to be completely honest). 

One thing I managed to complete this year is my GoodReads reading challenge. I must confess this is not the first time I am taking this challenge, But it is the first time I am completing it. 
I am glad that between work, crazy Master's schedules, writing my dissertation paper and personal life stuff I did manage to find time to unwind with a book in my hands. I am very glad I did stick to it. 

I'm definitely going to go bigger next year! And judging from the list this year it is probably going to be a pretty "colorful" and experimental one as well. But we'll just have to wait and see ...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eight Twenty Eight by Ian & Larissa Murphy

They met in college and fell in love. They talked about getting married, and he started looking for a ring. They dreamed about life together, a life of beauty and joy, raising babies and laughing with friends and growing old.

They did not imagine a car accident. They did not imagine his brain injury. They did not dream about the need for constant care and a wheelchair and fear that food might choke him. 
And they could not have imagined how persistent love would be. Theirs and God's. 

A beautiful love story, but not the kind you see everyday. But the kind that is more commitment and less feeling, more decision and less emotion, more like the love that stays and doesn't give up. It is a story full of loss and love, joy and sorrow woven together. 

Larissa presents the insides of her love and life story with Ian before and mostly after the accident that left him with a brain injury. This story is mostly based on her journal entries, which gives the story depth and detail as well as appropriate emotional context. There are also some of Ian's perspectives as well as his family's, but mostly, we are being presented with Larissa's perspective on her life journey with Ian through accident that changed their lives. 

What I loved the most about this book was the rawness of emotions presented. I loved the fact that Larissa was brutally honest (it maybe seem brutal sometimes, but I felt it honest, raw and realistic) about what she felt throughout the whole time since the accident. It gives this book authenticity, it dissolves all hints of perfection or fakeness, and it points to the One that sustains a person through a time like theirs. 

What I also loved was the writing. Most of the details of the story are from Larrisa's journal entries, from the exact time they happened, and they are so beautifully written. I found myself highlighting paragraphs of the book because I feel in love with the way she chose to enunciate certain emotions and seasons of life. The descriptive side of the book is just beautiful. I would say she is a true writer. 

The book has the perfect ending. You might have the tendency to put Larissa on a pedestal and admire her for the decisions she made throughout the whole journey after Ian's accident, especially for the fact that she chose to stay. But the ending makes clear the fact that such thoughts are to be put away: "When we see Larissa and Ian together, we should not be amazed at her devotion and love. Instead we should be pointed to Christ, amazed by his love for us and the miracle it is that we can reflect even a portion of that.
I think it offers a Christ-centered perspective on relationships. Not only romantic relationships, but this can be translated on friendships as well. And the idea of loving to the end and staying even when things get hard is something our society doesn't promote. So I believe this is a perfect book for everyone who wants an encouragement and an image of what true and godly relationships should look like.

I encourage you to find out more about Ian & Larissa's story. I was first introduced to their story some time ago though their Youtube video that was going viral at that time. Here you have it:

:: Quotes::
I liked talking to Ian, but he still hadn't taken up residence in my thought patterns yet. 
Sometimes he just lived in a different world. But it was a world that I needed. 
Winning my heart  over and over was a challenge he had looked forward to and spent a lot of time coordinating. He often used laughter as a sharp tool to get to my heart, when he wasn't using well-orchestrated, well-intended deceit. 
We loved strongly, but with bouts of fear and timidity. We loved without knowing what we would do with it or why we had been giving it or if it would last as long as we hoped. 
My mind didn't have a map for this new place that led to where Ian was. Nothing was familiar and I didn't have a compass. My eyes darted around, trying to process and store information. 
And yet often, even as I would thank God for what He was doing , my mind would trace back to what Ian was like before the accident, a habit which had a way of stealing any gratefulness. 
I listen. I love to listen and wait for his mind. 
To everyone else they will just look like random, unplanned smudges of contrasting colors and lines on a page. But to me they will be lanterns that kill the ghosts of the coma he used to live inside. 
I run away from it, my heart tugging at my legs to run and run faster - away from the darkness, away from the unknown, through the huge bushes of burdock, running toward something that looks brighter and less fearsome. (...) The home and the comfort and the stillness are pulling me, but I know I must go back, must turn into the darkness and follow it. 
"Isn't this what I was called to do?" I think to myself. The life of dependency on the One who made me? This life that doesn't make me comfortable, because the discomfort is exactly what I need to make heaven more irresistible?

* I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Loving someone is a process. Whether that's God, or that's another sticky human, it's a process. Love is a building process. It's doors unlocking. It's windows breaking. It's the discovery of new rooms inside of yourself. It's the dark. And it's the light. And it's dark and light all scrambled into one. At the root of it it's a slow, trusting, building process that starts with letting someone in.
                                                                                                       | Hannah Brencher's Instagram |

Monday, October 20, 2014

PAUL - 90 Days of His Journey of Faith by Beth Moore

Paul: 90 Days on His Journey of Faith is the new presentation of Moore’s enduring favorite, To Live Is Christ. Indeed, life with Christ meant a 180-degree turn for the apostle Paul who went from Christian basher to Christian chapmion, from church attacker to church father. When Jesus captured Paul’s soul, He got all of him. The same can be true for you.

A beautiful study on the life of Paul: his upbringing, his journey of faith and the courageous life that characterized him. This is part of the Personal Reflections Series - a series consisting of 4 90-days studies on the lives of Jesus, David, John and Paul. 

The study is a digging-deep resource. It starts with different Bible passages that helps the reader understand the circumstances of Paul's life and his upbringing, different influences in his life, everything that shaped him into the person Jesus meant him to be. 
Each day contains 3 parts: 
  • Before You Begin contains a Bible passage that helps set the scene. 
  • Stop and Consider contains a relevant Bible verse and some questions that helps the reader relate to the story presented. This part is followed by the actual study - usually  a 1-2 pages content. 
  • Praying God's Word Today presents a prayer that helps the reader internalize and work on whatever the study was focusing on. 
As soon as I started it I found myself hooked. One thing I liked about it is that the every day study is not overwhelmingly long, or presenting long chunks of information. It's actually accessible and presenting relevant information in a way that permits the reader to understand Paul's life and relate to it, as well as work on different areas in ones life. Because let's all just face it now, we are far from perfect. 
Even though a 90-days study maybe seem overwhelming, this one is accessible and catchy. Not at all hard to commit to it. 

Another beautiful thing about it is that it comes in a hardcover binding, with an elegant  vintage design. The collection would look really nice in a personal library. 
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to dig deeper into the life of Paul. It is a great resource to study the Bible in an organised way. I really enjoyed it!

> More info about Beth Moore and her Living Proof Ministries you can find here
> The book trailer can be found here.

:: Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States. A dedicated wife and mother of two adult daughters, Moore lives in Houston, Texas, where she is president and founder of Living Proof Ministries.

I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some of my lately reads...

:: The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels ::
(3 out of 5 stars) 
I've been following Ree's blog for quite a while now, being a fan of her yummy recipes and all. Her book was kind of a disappointment though, I confess I was expecting a bit more. The first part of the book was kind of a bore, but by the second part it got a bit better. The writing is not impressive, I felt that she was repeating the same thing over and over again. Per general I enjoyed it mostly because of the fun parts, those funny bits saved it for me. 

(3 out of 5 stars
Since The Fault in Our Stars, I've been trying to decide what should my next John Green read be. After a while I decided to just go with this one. The first part bored me, I kept to it though because I was expecting it to get better. I felt like it got a bit better by the second part, but not enough. I don't know, I just felt like it could have been better. The characters were pretty simplistic and plain, in my opinion. I enjoyed it per general, it just didn't impress me, to be honest. 

:: Gone Girl ::
(5 out of 5 stars)
Now this one, wow! After I finished it, I wasn't sure if it was a 4 or a 5 star read. But I finally decided upon giving it 5 stars. Let me just say this first: it was messed up, like really messed up. But I feel like that just gave the plot credibility and the characters' authenticity. It was one of the best novels I've read, definitely on my top ten novels list. The plot is really good, kept my heart in my throat the whole time. The characters are just brilliantly written. The characters' inner conversations, their thoughts, those journal entries, the duplicity, the psychological twists - they were all just genius. It was a really good book!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith

First of all, I need to say that I am a huge fan of Angie Smith. I am familiar with her story (I've been reading her blog for years) and read all her books (now). 
I couldn't wait to read Audrey Bunny because it's her first children's book and also it's another one inspired by her daughter's beautiful story. 

Audrey Bunny tells the story of a girl who got a not-so-perfect toy for her birthday and the way she loved it not in spite of that mark of imperfection but for it. I think it captures so well the imperfection struggles that children have even from early ages now. It's ultimately a beautiful portrayal of God's love for His children and it manages to explain so simply the Gospel's truth. 
There's the Parent Connection section at the end of the book that presents a relevant Bible passage and some questions and activities for a deeper understanding, which makes it a perfect tool for parents.

The first obvious thing I just loved about this book were the illustrations - absolutely beautiful. Breezy Brookshire did a wonderful job at it. Also, there are a couple of details from Audrey Caroline's story that were integrated so beautifully in the book: like the bunny's mark, the date of Audrey's birth, the cherry tree on the cover etc. I really loved that.
As I've mentioned before, Audrey Bunny is inspired by the story of Audrey Caroline. You can become familiar with it on Angie Smith's blog, or even better, you can read about it in her book I Will Carry You (warning: you will need lots of tissues. oh, but it's a beautiful one!). 

I gave it 5 starts because I love everything about it, really. I may be biased though, but I'm sure I'm not :).

>There's a sweet book trailer that you can check out. Also, you can find here the author's explanation of the bunny's mark.
>There's the narrated story video offered on B&H Publishing's Youtube Channel:

:: Angie Smith is an author, blogger, wife (of Todd Smith, lead singer of the hit Christian contemporary group Selah) and speaker. Many people have connected with her through her transparent, warm, witty writing about the life experiences Smith writes about. Her training is in psychology (a Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Developmental Psychology), and her blog gives her the opportunity to combine her two greatest passions: helping to heal people’s hearts and writing. Her recent books include "What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms" (2011) and "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" (2010).

I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Boring by Michael Kelley

Boredom seems to be an epidemic nowadays, from kids and teenagers to adults and elders. It's everywhere, isn't it? We are now programmed to want things done quickly and be entertained constantly with new stuff. There are a lot of things that betray it, really. 

In his book, Michael Kelley proposes a theory as to why boredom is such an issue lately, stating the fact that the real problem is our definition of significance. He believes ordinary is actually a myth. Significance can be found in the middle of the ordinary and mundane.
The first half of the book focuses on explaining his view on boredom and the myth of ordinary. As you move to the second half of the book, the author tackles boredom on a practical level, specifically focusing on the relevant areas of life such as: friendships, parenting, money management, work ethic, church and christian life. 

I enjoyed the book, it was an easy read. He doesn't really present new and never-heard-of ideas and perspectives on boredom. He mainly explains it from a biblical, christian perspective.
What I really liked were the relevant biblical illustrations presented in a catchy, graphic style. I also think the practical part of the book (the second half of it) was presented in an authentic way: with personal stories (which I always love in a book like this) which gave me the impression that Kelley actually struggled with the issues he presents here and he speaks from experience. In my perspective that's what makes these self-help sort of books relevant and worth reading.
I gave it 4 stars, mainly because I liked the way it approaches such a subject with simplicity and authenticity. I chose not to give it 5 stars because the writing was not impressive enough. 

Like I've mentioned before, he doesn't present his point of views and theories without the struggles that such a mindset involves. He mentions here the self-consciousness that hiders way too often the practice of thankfulness in specific areas of life. The solution he offers is Christ, focusing on Christ and thinking less about the "self" - removing the self from self-consciousness. The solution is acting towards making these thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10.3-5). 

The author's conclusion to his book is:
"Everything is the same, but everything is suddenly very different. That's what this book has been about - not escaping the ordinary, but reshaping our view of the ordinary in light of the extraordinary God. I hope this book, by God's grace, has helped you take a step toward removing the word "just" from your vocabulary: You're not just a mom. You're not just a teacher. You're not just a student, just a taxpayer, or just a church member. No one is who follows an extraordinary God."

:: Michael Kelley is an author, editor, and communicator whose previous works include Holy Vocabulary: Rescuing the Language of Faith and The Tough Sayings of Jesus. Born in Texas, Michael holds a Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. Michael and his wife have three children and live in Nashville, Tennessee. 

>> QUOTES <<
But there is no such thing as ordinary when you are following an extraordinary God. "Ordinary" is a myth. The only reason we think of something as ordinary is because we fail to look for and then grasp the massive work and presence of God in our lives. 
The problem is our definition of significance. People tend to believe that the pathway to significance is paved with the big, the showy, and the grand. The people who are most often lauded as influential are the ones doing the big, impressive things with their lives. Consequently, those same people cannot involve themselves in these mundane details of life. Indeed, the mundane details are like anchors that weigh a person down from the bigger and the better. So moving toward a life that matters involves moving past the details that don't. 
I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I've read lately...

:: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (4 out of 5 stars) is a really catchy and well written novel. The plot is very psychological and the characters were extremely complex. I finished it in a few days, but just because I didn't have the time to just sit down and finish it (which I was very tempted to do). I really enjoyed it, except for the language (bad words, cussing, vulgarity), but it kinda added to the authenticity of the characters.

:: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (3 out of 5 stars) is a young adult/teen novel. I have to say it was sort of disappointing for me, because I've expected more based on the reviews I've read about this book. But I liked it per general: it was an easy read, I liked the way the author structured the chapters, the plot wasn't predictable although it seemed to me a little too abrupt at the end. 

:: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (4 out of 5 stars) is a collection of fiction and nonfiction essays. What I really liked about this book was the writing, she is a really good writer. I liked the stories too, especially the nonfiction essays. She is such a young and passionate spirit, and you can feel that throughout the pages of this book. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Letting Go of Perfect by Amy E. Spiegel

I chose Letting Go of Perfect because of its subject and because Angie Smith wrote the foreword. I am a big fan of Angie Smith's books, blog writings and her story. 

It was easy for me to like the author because I could relate to her love for books as well as with her introvert personality. She is a realist and chooses to approach the subject in a realistic way, which I really appreciated. She doesn't give a 5 step guide or a couple of easy steps, instead she is honest about the messy in her life, sharing personal experiences in a funny way. I mostly loved the way she uses the illustrations, I think they are perfectly fit for the lessons she wants emphasize in each chapter. 

What I enjoyed most is that I could feel the author's authenticity throughout the book - it felt like a friendly chat over a cup of coffee. 
I also liked the way she tackles issues like: suffering, pride, addiction, time management, relationships, media consumption and identity issues. She manages to give a scriptural perspective, sharing relevant Bible passages to emphasize the truth over her own point of view.

At the end of the book there is a list of book recommendations with a little summary for each of them (goodies at the end!). Finally, the author offers a Letting Go of Perfect one-week-schedule at the end, with daily reflection Q's and Bible verses. 

Here you can find the author's blog and other resources. 
> There's also this cool free app for your phone that you can check out here

I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Goodies in the mail

I've received this book in the mail a couple of weeks ago, actually. B&H Publishing agreed to send this copy for me to review. I have started to read a bit of it, but because the deadline for my dissertation paper is next week, I am focusing on that. The review is going to come soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker

Carlos Whittaker is a musician, a worship leader and a blogger, so he is a pretty popular presence on social media. 

In his book, he explains the Moment Making theory and method. He breaks it down into three basic approaches: Created Moments, Received Moments and Rescued Moments. Each of these approaches contains an introduction and some personal examples of each of those moments. His stories are motivational and funny.

I liked his enthusiastic and passionate take on life, the Moment Making theory and then the explanations that come later in the book. All these determine you to be intentional about your Moment Making journey and at the same time, they give you some tools for starting with some pragmatic steps.

I loved the book and I would recommend it to those who want to enjoy life every little moment at a time, to those who want to get the best out of it, and to those who want to:
Live with purpose and on purpose.

You can check out Carlos' blog. Also, check out the book trailer:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Currently reading...

I have received some goodies in the mail last week: Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang. I've won this book at a GoodReads giveaway a few weeks ago. Can't wait to finish it and write a few thoughts about it. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"As you set out on this journey of Moment Making you will discover that things rarely go according to plan, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The most important thing is that the unexpected is actually a gift. It presents opportunities to take that moment you meant to make for someone else and allow God to put his spin on it. When you open yourselves to the new, you open yourselves to unforeseen possibilities. It's there, right there, that we find our ability to grow and explore!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"You never know while it's happening what will burn into your memory, sacred and profound. It seems like most of the things we try to make profound never are, lost in our insistence and fretting and posing. When we want something to be momentous, it rarely is. Life is disobedient in that way, insisting on surprising us with its magic, stubbornly unwilling to be glittery on command."