the New Year’s tag {2015-2016}

(I’ve had this tag in my drafts for forever and I’ve forgotten where I originally copied it from.  So, just so you know, that’s why I’m not linking back to a blog/person, like I usually do.)

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Watched a movie in a movie theater, learned to love the Western genre, and graduated from high school.

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make one this year?

I don’t think I made any resolutions for 2015, and if I did they obviously didn’t stick around very long.  I do have some goals for next year, mainly to do with my writing.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Sadly, no.

Did anyone close to you die?

Happily, no.

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What countries/states did you visit?

I went to Montreal (which is a PROVINCE, by the way) for a day with my dad and sister, but other than that I’ve stuck around in Ontario, Canada.  No exotic vacations for me this year, unfortunately. (Well, it’s not too unfortunate, because I really prefer staying at home for real comfort.)

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

A closer walk with God.  Also, a finished draft of The Bounty Hunter.

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory?

June 29th.  For reasons which will be answered in the next question…

Did you move anywhere?

YES.  On June 29th, my family pulled up stakes and moved to a gorgeous home (that used to be a church – it was built in 1861!) and we’ve been living here for over six months.  There’s soooo much more space, my grandparents live with us (in a downstairs apartment of their own), we’ve been able to have pets again, and overall, it’s been great.  And my sisters and I have two rooms now instead of one.  WIN.  The only thing that took getting used is having only one bathroom (we used to have four).  But we’ve adjusted splendidly, if I do say so myself.

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What was the best month?

December was awesome because it started off with house guests (who were super-duper amazing and I loved spending time with them) and good food and lots of laughter, and then there was Christmassssss and making presents and tons of Christmas music and packages in the mail and general amazingness.  So, December is the winner.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I graduated! *showers confetti over oneself*

What was your biggest failure?

Um…I didn’t learn to ride a bike?  That was one of my goals for 2015, but it didn’t happen.  That’s the worst thing I can think of, really.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope!  Maybe a cold here and there, but nothing major.

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What was the best thing you bought?

Combat!, the full series.  Elisabeth and I saved up for that for months and bought it off Amazon, and now that streaming videos from Youtube doesn’t really work for us (’cause the internet situation out in the country is precarious), it’s been doubly helpful. (Plus, there are lots of cool bonus features.)  AND MY LAPTOP.  How could I have forgotten that???  I’ve called it ‘Hymie’ and it’s awesome-sauce.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My sister, Elisabeth.  She’s been an amazing encouragement to me all year long about anything I happened to be having trouble with – especially my writing, and Certain People who tend to frustrate me.  When I was really, really depressed about not being able to work out the plot for The Bounty Hunter, she talked me through what kind of a story I had already, and then helped me figure out the rest of the plot.  She reads my writing and helps me pick out great clothes to wear (I have zero fashion sense, and she has tons) and I know she’ll always be there to help me.  She’s the best.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Supreme Court’s.  And a few other people whose names I can’t mention because this is a Public Blog.

Where did most of your money go?

BOOKS.  Of course. 😉

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What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The release of Go Set A Watchman.  Well, at least before I read all the critics’ bad reviews and my anticipation plummeted to an all-time low.  But all the hype was fun while it lasted, and I did enjoy the book in the end, so it wasn’t all that bad.

What was the best concert you’ve been to this year?

I didn’t go to a concert. *sad face*  There was a one-night-only Glenn Miller concert near where I live, but my family couldn’t afford to send me. *sadder face*  I also missed out on seeing Newsies and Cinderella live. *saddest face ever*

What song/album will always remind you of 2015?

Song: “Little Wonders” from Meet The Robinsons because that’s literally what heralded in the New Year.  My siblings and I were just finishing the film when midnight came.  Album: My lovely “Glenn Miller: Greatest Hits” CD, because I almost wore it out over this past year.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
1. happier or sadder?  Happier!  Though I don’t remember being all that sad last year.
2. thinner or fatter?  About the same.
3. richer or poorer?  I don’t have a cent on me right now.  Which is usually the case.

What do you wish you’d done more of?  

Reading my Bible.  Spending quality time with my family.  Listening to Christmas music.

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What do you wish you’d done less of? 

Crying. (Honestly, I get depressed soooo easily.)  Pinteresting.  Spending time online.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Glenn Miller FOR THE WIN.  Also, Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Jones.  Love them all. 

How did you spend Christmas?

Like I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my family doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, but we did do a few things.  On Christmas Eve, Dad and Mom gave each of my siblings (and me) a book, and on Christmas Day we had a delicious turkey dinner and sat around talking.  Oh, and I gave cookies to the neighbours.  Good times, guys.

How are you spending New Year’s?

Gifts.  Lots of gifts.  Eating tons of good stuff and having family time and going to visit a church member in the hospital.  It’ll be great.

Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

I don’t do phone calls, and I can’t remember the last time I talked with anyone for more than five minutes.  Emails and Skype are more my thing – I’ve sent LOTS of emails this year and chatted lots and lots with friends on Skype.  So that’s been fun.

"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South...Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind...":

What was the best book you read?

GONE WITH THE WIND. (You can check out the list of that and nine other super-fantaz-cool-o-rama books I read this year.)

Did you fall in love in 2015?

Yes.  About twenty different times, with fictional characters and certain actors.  I fall in love/like pathetically easily.

What was your favorite TV show?

COMBAT! (Ya’ll knew that was coming, right?)  Monk, Get Smart, and The Big Valley are also contenders.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nooooo.  Definitely not.

What did you want and get?

Cool story, that: When my family drove over to the house we’re now living in to check it out before buying it, there was a lovely, vintage typewriter sitting out and I wanted it.  A lot.  Of course, the former residents took it with them when they left – or so I thought.  Actually, Dad bought it off them and gave it to me at my graduation.  SQUEEP.  It now sits on my dresser, and I love it.

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What were your favorite films of this year?

I watched a TON of old movies this year, because I got obsessed with vintage stuff in general right around February and I couldn’t list them all.  But there were lots.  I also thoroughly enjoyed Cinderella (2015), True Grit (2010), Big Hero 6, The Bourne Identity, The Monuments Men, Mockingjay Part 1, and Saving Private Ryan.  I watched lots of good films this year.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

Whatever was clean.  For real.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was Seventeen.  Which means in less than a year, I’ll be EIGHTEEN.  What.  That’s pretty cool.  Anywayyy…for probably the first time in my life, I didn’t spend my birthday at home.  My entire family went on a mini-vacation, and we stayed at a hotel, and bought tons of books at a used bookstore, and it was great.  I was kind of not really okay with spending my birthday away from home, but Dad took me back to the used bookstore and I found a biography of Audrey Hepburn and a really old book about Casablanca (the movie, not the place), and we ended the day watching “The First Day” (C! episode), so it all worked out.  It was a good birthday.

What kept you sane?

Prayer.  My sister.  Other awesome friends.  And this blog.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Another sibling.  Preferably twin girls, because then there’d be five boys and five girls in our family. 🙂  Oh, and I’d really have liked to go to that Glenn Miller concert, but it was Not To Be. *sigh*

Fab.:

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Matt Damon?  I don’t really fancy modern actors/actresses/public figures because of Reasons, but over the past several months I’ve developed quite a crush on Matt Damon, so he’d be my answer. (I feel like there’s someone I’m forgetting about, but for the life of me I can’t figure out who it is.)

What political issue stirred you the most?

The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the USA, the Paris attacks, and the Canadian election.

Who did you miss?

The Jacksons – they’re the house guests I talked about earlier.  We had ‘some lively times’ together, but they can’t come see my family too often because they travel a lot. (They’re missionaries.)  I miss them terribly.

Who was the best new person you met?

Naomi.  We’ve become great friends.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Eh.  I’m not one of those girls who have a song lyric for every single occasion, so I really don’t know what to say.  So, I’ll just leave this one unanswered.

Five things I want to do in 2016:

  1. Learn to ride a bike.
  2. Expand my bank robbery/hostage/western story.
  3. Revise The Bounty Hunter.
  4. Spend less time online.
  5. LIVE.

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Feel free to borrow this tag, guys, because I’d love to see your answers. 🙂 (And thanks for reading right down to the end of this post!)

Eva

my top thirty favorite movies

Wow.  I can’t believe I’m actually doing this list, because I have tons and tons and TONS of favorite movies, so narrowing them down to a relative few always seemed like The Impossible Chore.  But then I saw this post on The Second Sentence and it inspired me to do a list of my own – as it turned out, thirty movies was pretty much the perfect number: not too few, not too many.  For the sake of time, I’ll just be doing a bare list without any commentary whatsoever, but I hope my choices will spark discussions (and fangirling) in the comments.  And now for the list!

(Literally in no order.)

// Stalag 17 //

// The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly //

// State Fair //

// The Magnificent Seven //

// Singin’ In The Rain //

// Laura //

// Saving Mr. Banks //

// Saints & Soldiers //

// Robin Hood (Disney version) //

// Meet The Robinsons //

// Gone With The Wind //

// True Grit //

// The Best Years of Our Lives //

// Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade //

// Captain America: The First Avenger //

// The Tin Star //

// The Great Escape //

// Friendly Persuasion //

// Strangers on a Train //

// Roman Holiday //

// High Noon //

// Casablanca //

// Mister Roberts //

// The Longest Day //

// The Glenn Miller Story //

// 12 Angry Men //

// White Christmas //

// Ocean’s 11 //

// To Kill A Mockingbird //

// Little Women //

Do you spot any of your favorites on this list?

Eva

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

I’m so full of joy and happy feels right now. 🙂  I hope ya’ll have an AWESOME day filled with presents and good food and Christmas music and that cozy, Christmasy feeling…  Basically all the things that definitely make this day the very best time of the year. *hugs and virtual sugar cookies*  Once you’re done all your celebrating, come back here and let me know how the day went.  And I’ll tell you how mine’s gone so far, and how the rest of it’s going to go. (At least, how I think/hope it’s going to go.)

Even though we (my family and I) wait to give the bulk of our presents on New Year’s Day, Christmas is still a super special time for me – for all of us, really.  We’re planning on having a big turkey dinner and then we’re going to go see a church member who’s in the hospital (we’re bringing him some sugar cookies and cards).  I’ve already made a HUGE batch of sugar cookies, divided them onto plates, and gone around with a bunch of my siblings to the neighbours.  That’s a big part of why I’m bursting with the Christmas spirit – so fun!  Now I’m sitting in my cozy room, listening to old Christmas songs (last day to do it, after all), and writing this blog post.

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Goodness, this day promises to go swimmingly well. *siiiiiigh*  Though the weather outside is ridiculously warm and we didn’t get a white Christmas.  Honestly!  This is CANADA, people.

Do I seem a little hyper to you?  That’s because I am.

Oh, and my family has had a tradition of doing a snowflake advent calendar that counts down to the New Year with a new activity each evening (watching a movie, playing a game, making cookies, etc.), and we weren’t able to do it this year because we were sick part of the time and we also had house guests at the beginning of December.  And Mom was kind of disappointed about that.  So, I got up this morning and made seven snowflakes for the last week of this month, counting down to January 1st, and the different activities promise to be EPIC.

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Most importantly, though, let’s not forget the true reason for Christmas.  Take a moment in the middle of this exciting, fun-filled day to reflect on Jesus, His birth, and the importance of His life and death.  In my opinion, celebrating God’s wonderful gift to us makes for the true reason, meaning, and spirit of Christmas.

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas! (And God bless us, every one!)

Eva

P.S. Today is also my first anniversary of transferring this blog over to WordPress.  *confetti all around*  Awesome, right?  It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I can’t wait to see where the next 365 days takes me and you and this blog.  Here’s to another great year!

little things {#11}

don't forget to smile:

~chocolate

~it’s Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve!

~handmade quilts

~all the pleasant secrets in the air this time of year

~bookmarks

~the Internet – can’t live with it, can’t live without it

~organizing my books

~dear friends

~prayer

~shipping Bill and Rachel (I just watched Eloise At Christmastime, so it’s practically a requirement)

~my little brothers

~the stack of gifts in the family room that keeps getting bigger and bigger

~twinkly, sparkly, glittery Christmas lights

~laughing so hard my sides ache

~LIFE

Eva

christmas at stalag 17: inklings exploration link-up {december 2015}

Interested in joining in? Go here for more details!

Not only is Stalag 17 one of my favorite movies EVER, but it also happens to be one of my favorite Christmas movies – I watch it every December.  It may not look like an obvious candidate for the title of ‘Christmas movie’, but the story takes place around Christmas time, there are several Christmas-y scenes, and if I’m not mistaken, the thrilling conclusion takes place on Christmas Day. (Everything from when the POWs jump the Germans and get Dunbar to the final, whistled notes of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again’, I believe.)  So, in my opinion, it’s a Christmas movie.

There are a few other scenes I could’ve chosen to focus on, but the one that always comes immediately to mind whenever I think of Stalag 17, the one that always moves me to tears, is the scene where all the POWs sing ‘Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’, ringed around the tiny Christmas tree that they decorated with their dog-tags and a few candle stubs, and ‘the gang’ gives Joey a new ocarina.  I love, love, love that part.

Now to illustrate the scene with some screenshots…

Duke leaves Sefton after making off with all the wine he’d stockpiled. Poor Sefton – not really because of his locker being ransacked, but because I don’t believe that anyone should be left alone and friendless during Christmas. (On a side note, the thing he’s looking at is The Lightbulb.  Already starting to put everything together. Clever, clever…)

You’ll notice that I love this group shot so much that I have a similar one on my blog header. Yes, some of them are jerks and one of them is a traitor, but for the most part, I like these guys a lot.

“Here’s a present for you, Joey…” (Gotta smile at how all those guys in the background are so eager/happy to see Joey get a present. *happy tears*)

''Merry Christmas to Joey from the Gang.''

“Merry Christmas
to Joey from the Gang.” (Ugh, I have soooo many feels about Joey.  It hurts.)

I love how they’re so excited about getting him to play it AND the fact that music is one thing that Joey can really hold on to. (Also, Mom and I have a theory that Joey knew who the traitor was, but was unable to tell anyone.  Thoughts?)

AWWWWWWWW. Happy (and sad) feels all around. (And then that stupid fake air raid had to come along and ruin everything. Grrrrr.)

This is such a little scene, but also a powerful one that illustrates the spirit of Christmas.  Which is why I love it – and why it’s my favorite moment in the entire film.

Eva

what I’m doing {#8}

{reading}

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While the main book I’m reading right now is Gone With The Wind, I also have a few books on the side (reading multiple books at a time isn’t something I ordinarily do, but GWTW is so long that I don’t feel right about not reading anything else for days and days).  True Grit, for one.  The writing seems a bit dry, but it’s still quite a good read – I think part of the dryness stems from the fact that I feel like I’m reading a transcript of the 2010 movie (because the movie follows the book so closely).  In some ways, I wish I could have read the book first and seen what I thought of it without the film’s influence.  (By the way, does anyone recommend the John Wayne adaption?  I watched the trailer and a few clips and I don’t think I’d enjoy it much, compared to the Coen brothers’ version.)

I’ve also read three Christmas books recently (check that off my bucket list!) – A Christmas Carol (I can’t believe I’ve never read it before), How The Grinch Stole Christmas (reading it aloud to my little brothers is the annual tradition, and I always have to work at not crying), and The Lump of Coal (Lemony Snicket is a hilarious author).

{watching}

Two live-action Disney movies, both of which have destroyed me emotionally: Old Yeller and The Great Locomotive Chase.  WHAT IS HAPPINESS.  I’d never seen Old Yeller until last night, but I’ll bet I cried as hard as any ten-year-old kid who’s owned and loved a dog. (Oh my goodness, just imagine showing this to Jem Blythe – he’d be absolutely crushed.)  And the thing is, I don’t even like dog movies.  I don’t even like dogs.  But there’s just something about that movie that seems to turn everyone into a sobbing mess.  I NEED SOME COMMISERATING COMMENTS, GUYS.

And then, The Great Locomotive Chase, aka Pretty Much The Least Known Disney Movie Ever.  Honestly, if you’ve heard of this film (or *gasp* have actually watched it), then my hat is off to you. (You know…if I had a hat.)  I watched this movie when I was a little kid, maybe seven or eight years old, and it traumatized me because the ending’s so sad and I didn’t have much experience with my favorite characters dying (ha).  It’s still just as gripping these days – I’m tearing up a little just thinking of the last couple of scenes, because it’s the WORST.  Plenty of rip-roaring action, and ‘Dixie’, and chase sequences in the middle, but once everyone gets captured during the last half hour, it’s one of the most depressing things ever.

{listening to}

Fairytale of New York, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and Merry Christmas Everyone:

Nothing, sadly.  I haven’t been on my computer much these past few days, and I just haven’t gotten around to listening to any Christmas music lately.  Or any kind of music. *sigh*  But I will!

What’ve you been reading/watching/listening to lately?

Eva

top ten tuesday: top ten best books of 2015

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I’ve always wanted to participate in a Top Ten Tuesday, but for some reason I just never got around to it – either I forgot about it when Tuesday came around or the topic for that week didn’t interest me.  But today I’m giving it a try, because I was already planning to write a blog post about the books I read in 2015, and this looked like the perfect opportunity.  (Check out The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday page here if you’re interested in joining in.)

(In no order whatsoever.)

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// Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell //

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Currently in the middle of my third re-read of this stupendously amazing book, so it’s obvious that I love it, since it’s so large that I have to put aside all other books for days and days.  I literally just read Scarlett’s famous “I’ll never be hungry again!” soliloquy. *chills*  Best book of 2015, hands-down, and quite possibly my favorite novel ever.  No kidding.

// Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card //

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This. Book.  OH MY WORD.  Orson Scott Card, you are a genius writer and you made me like sci-fi books which is something I thought I’d never do.  He’s written tons of books in the Ender series (and also the Shadow series, which follows Bean’s story), and while I eventually want to read them all, I know that the first one will forever be my favorite.  It’s so deep and interesting and basically perfect.  The movie did not do it justice. (The only thing I liked about it was Harrison Ford.)

// The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly //

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On the whole, I don’t usually like contemporary novels but this one was special, and not just because of the Little Women connection.  I could see myself and my sisters in Emma, Lulu, and Sophie which was neat – and eye-opening, in some ways.  This book was charming and thoughtful and very well-written; the kind of book you feel like curling up with all day.  I ended up giving it five stars on Goodreads, which quite rare for me.

// The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery //

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You all know my great love for this book.  And if you don’t, I shall direct you to my review.

// The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo //

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Yes, a children’s book.  What can I say?  Mom got this one from the library to read it aloud to my younger siblings, and after I heard the first chapter or so, I borrowed it for myself and I read it one sitting on a warm, sunny afternoon (it’s a fast read, and trust me, it’s best to read it in summer – I don’t know why, but it just is).  It actually had me crying in a couple of places (like, really crying).  One of my favorite aspects of TMJOET is that it spans decades, so the story feels rich and full, even though it’s quite short.  LOVE. (Plus, the illustrations are gorgeous.)

// All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein //

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The only non-fiction entry on this list, because I don’t like reading non-fiction as much as fiction.  (Though I have discovered some non-fiction gems over the years – Unbroken, for one.)  This is a Holocaust story, so naturally it’s quite depressing, but the author (it’s her autobiography) has a gift for writing, and the ending is DARLING. (It sounds weird to say that for a Holocaust memoir, but it’s so, so true.)  I don’t want to give away anything, but trust me when I say that the ending is amazing. (Mom introduced me to this book, and she was fangirling, too.)

// Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean //

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Let me just say that I’m in awe of Alistair MacLean’s writing skills.  Not just the way he can string a plot together (as a writer unable to come up with plausible plots, I can only marvel in his cleverness) and populate his books with unique, memorable characters, but the way he writes blows me away.  I can’t describe it – you’ll just have to read one of his books.  And as for the book itself…I love it!  The characters are wonderful, Schaffer especially, but Mary and Smith are great as well.  The twists and turns left me reeling the first time I read it, which I enjoyed. (Honestly, there are plot twists right up to the last couple of pages.)  I highly recommend the movie, too.

 // Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley //

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Again, I’ll direct you to my review. 🙂

// Wonder by R. J. Palacio //

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This book is brilliant.  I haven’t read it in several months, so I don’t feel very qualified to talk about it at great length, but suffice to say that it’s easily one of the best books of 2015.  It takes a good writer to switch between multiple, first-person points of view and have them all be different and instantly identifiable, but Palacio did an amazing job with that.  And of course I cried at the end, even though I know it was pretty blatant emotional manipulation – I couldn’t help it.

// Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee //

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Ooookay.  The Great Controversial Book of 2015.  I read it, even after I said I wasn’t going to, and I don’t regret a thing.  The critics blew almost everything bad about Atticus out of proportion, and although the second half was more than a little confusing (maybe because I read it too fast?) and it was still a hard read (more than a few tears were shed), I did enjoy it.  There was more than one part that made me smile, or even laugh, and it’s a thought-provoking read, to say the least.  And it hasn’t ruined my opinion of Atticus – if anything, it’s enriched it.  So, it all worked out in the end.

Runners-up: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card, Animal Farm by George Orwell, GI Brides by Duncan Barrett, Laura by Vera Caspary, Jungle Pilot by Russell T. Hitt, The Novelist by Angela Hunt, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Last Battle & A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan, Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. (Yes, I know I have more runners-up than actual ‘Best Books’.  I couldn’t leave them out, but they didn’t quite make the top ten either.  So sue me.)

Eva