my top ten favorite fictional gals of all time

Again, no movie or TV show characters are on this list. 

Check out my list for the guys, too!


1. Katniss Everdeen (the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins) – Katniss is such a real character.  She’s not the strongest, the fastest, the prettiest, the smartest, or the most talented person you’ll ever meet.  I would argue that she is one of the bravest, though.  The Hunger Games has become so mainstream and commonplace that sometimes I forget what a huge thing it was for Katniss to volunteer for Prim.  It’s such a beautiful moment of courageous self-sacrifice and Katniss continues to exhibit those qualities throughout the series.


2. Julia Hoffman (Fire by Night by Lynn Austin) – Julia has been one of my very favorite heroines for a long time.  When the book begins, she’s a selfish, spoiled belle whose only goal in life is to capture the attention and affection of her crush.  But as the story progresses, she gradually (oh so gradually) changes and matures and becomes the woman God always intended her to be.

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3. Luxa (the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins) – Luxa’s a bit of a brat when you first meet in the pages of Gregor the Overlander, but at least she was never as bad as Henry.  She goes from hating and loathing pretty much all species (except the bats, but including Overlanders) to bonding with the rats and sacrificing so much for the mice and trusting Temp.  I love it and I love that Hamnet had such a big influence on her in the end.  I HAVE SO MANY FEELS ABOUT HER CHARACTER, OKAY?

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4. Fanny Price (Mansfield Park by Suzanne Collins) – Fanny Price is not pathetic and weak and she deserves every Austenite’s respect and admiration.  There.  I said it.  I’ve always like Mansfield Park and I don’t really get why more Jane Austen fans don’t share that liking.  Fanny is an awesome heroine.  She stands by her convictions and doesn’t back down or whine or complain when things don’t go her way (as they so often do not).  Everyone should be more like Fanny.


5. Sara Crewe (A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett) – Some people say that Sara is an unrealistic child and a Mary Sue as well.  I disagree.  Sara never really played with children her age (if I recall correctly), so she would necessarily be more mature and grown-up than other young girls.  She isn’t perfect, but she is incredibly brave and kind and caring.


6. Mary Breydon (The Cherokee Trail by Louis L’Amour) – Louis L’Amour’s heroines are usually great, but Mary is in a class of her own.  Even though her husband has died relatively recently, she still travels to the lonely stagecoach station he would have been in charge of and runs it just as well as her husband would’ve (if not better).  She has grit and chases off numerous threats, all while cooking delicious food and retaining her femininity.

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7. Parvin Blackwater (the Out of Time trilogy by Nadine Brandes) – *bawls*  Parvin’s journey throughout Nadine Brandes’ trilogy is epic and amazing and inspiring and she is an example of a Christian character who isn’t flat or too perfect or unrealistic in any other way – she isn’t perfect and struggles with real issues that real Christians have to deal with (take note, Christian film industry!).  Parvin displays so much strength and belief and trust throughout the series…it’s truly awe-inspiring.

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8. Cress Darnel (the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer) – Really, any of the main heroines from the Lunar Chronicles could be on this list, but I wanted to limit myself to one and Cress is the best, so yes.  Cinder has the smarts and Scarlet has strength and Winter has so much heart and courage, but Cress is such a beautiful blend of quietness and techsavviness and compassion and curiosity – she’s basically Rapunzel from ‘Tangled’ (minus the tech part).  I love how she’s got a crush on Thorne, only he doesn’t measure up to her idea of him until she becomes the catalyst of his character growth.  And her backstory is tragic.  Which is always a plus.

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9. Tally Youngblood (the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield) – Maybe it was a visceral reaction to Aya Fuse’s awfulness in Extras, but Tally quickly became a favorite heroine after re-reading the Uglies series.  At first, she’s naive, but that changes.  She takes so many crazy, selfless risks and inspires and encourages people – she’s an optimistic heroine, even with all the bad stuff that happens to her and the people she cares about.


10. Marguerite Blakeney (the Scarlet Pimpernel series by Baroness Orczy) – Marguerite should probably be at the top of this list, to be honest.  She’s amazing in the first book (Percy’s rather horrible), especially when she rushes to France to try to save Percy’s life.  And then in El Dorado…yes, yes, and more yes.  ‘Brave’ isn’t even a big enough word to describe her actions there.  I love how Percy trusts her implicitly and she never gives him a reason to retract that trust (after the unpleasantness in the first book, I mean).  Marguerite is one of the best fictional female characters of all time and I don’t hesitate for a moment in saying that.

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Who are some of your favorite fictional heroines?



mini book reviews {#4}

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White – I’ve read three books by White so far and they all share a commonality: it takes me a while to get into the story, but once I do…wow.  I didn’t want this one to end and I liked it even better than A Name Unknown.



Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo, Darrell Scott, and Steve Rabey – After watching ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ so often, I wanted to read this book and it was wonderful.  Touching and challenging.  It also gives me great confidence in the movie because I was able to see just how many details they took right from Rachel’s journals.


A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Just finished this one yesterday.  IT WAS SO GOOD.  Nadine Brandes is a genius at weaving her faith into her stories without it being jarring or heavy-handed.  I love this series.


Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt – I often have trouble connecting with Hunt’s characters, though her writing style is incredible, but when I found myself very close to ugly sobbing by the end when a certain character died, I knew I’d connected this time.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – Beautifully written, but a hard read for somewhat obvious reasons.  I cried so much.


Do Hard Things & Start Here by Brett and Alex Harris – I’ve had Do Hard Things on my shelf for years but I only read it a couple months ago.  WHY DIDN’T I READ IT SOONER? *is angry at younger self*  Anyway, it’s hugely inspiring and absolutely worth reading.  The follow up, Start Here, is almost as good and has lots of practical tips for implementing the ideas in DHT.


Old Friends & New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton – A treat for Jane Austen fans.  It’s a little clunky and character-heavy, but once things settle down and Brinton finds her rhythm, it’s a good book.


The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker – While I wouldn’t recommend the other two books in the Seer series, The Choosing stands well by itself (as far as I can remember) and the world-building/characterization is amazing.  Reminded me, in bleakness, of The Giver.  And the theological issues aren’t as prevalent in this one, so…yes.  Tentatively recommended.


The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart – Good, but looooong.  I can’t really compare it to The Mysterious Benedict Society, since I haven’t read that in ages, but it was great.


Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake – A light-hearted, entertaining western with fun characters.  AKA some of my favorite things all rolled into one.


Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean – I don’t even like dogs but Orlean had me captivated right from the first page.


First Date by Krista McGee – A frothy, forgettable read centered around the premise that POTUS’s son is going to chose a prom date on a Bachelor-esque reality show.  There were a few heartfelt moments, mostly centered around the main character’s deceased missionary parents, but I wasn’t too impressed overall.


For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton – I partially rate the skill of a biographer on whether or not I cry at the subject’s death at the end (unless it’s someone like Hitler or someone who’s not dead yet).  Well, Hamilton had me in tears within the first five pages so take from that what you will.  For the Glory reminded me of Unbroken with its rich prose and great characters.  I watched ‘Chariots of Fire’ yesterday and had great fun pointing out all the inaccuracies (and the scenes/people that were accurate).  Now I’m looking forward to see Joseph Fiennes in ‘On Wings of Eagles’.


What books have you read lately?


my top ten favorite fictional guys of all time

No movie/TV show characters are on this list, because I’ve done previous lists of ‘ten favorite screen characters’ before and books are GOLD and I have so many literary favorites.

Also, I’ll be writing a list of my favorite fictional girls/women.  So stay tuned!


1. Dan Kean (Little Men & Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott) – There are some characters that legitimately feel like real life, flesh and blood people, and Dan is one of them.  His character growth and development – from a surly, ungrateful boy to a brave man who’s not afraid to admit to and learn from his mistakes – makes me so happy.  He seems somewhat apart from the other, quieter characters in Little Men and Jo’s Boys and I believe he’s my favorite fictional character of all time.


Dan and Teddy ❤ (Source)

2. Ender Wiggin (Ender’s Game & all the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card) – Ender makes my heart hurt.  His struggles, doubts, fears, courage, weariness…and the fact that he simply is touch me in a special way.  He’s not a hero in the traditional sense, but his compassion makes him heroic even when he himself would deny it.  ‘Ender’s Game’, the movie, is a pallid adaption of the book, but at least Asa Butterfield did an excellent job portraying Ender.


3. Colonel Brandon (Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen) – I admit that my love for Colonel Brandon probably has more to do with Colonel Brandon’s Diary (by Amanda Grange) and Alan Rickman’s performance in the 1995 movie, but still.  He and Mr. Knightley are basically tied for favorite Jane Austen hero.  He fights a duel, he watches over Marianne (NOT in a creepy way, mind you), he’s a good friend to all the Dashwoods (I especially love his friendship with Elinor), and he gets the girl in the end (most deservedly so). *happy sigh*


4. Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton) – It’s rare that I like a main characters as much as I like Ponyboy, but his narration is so honest and real and vivid that I can’t help but fall a little in love with him. (I’m still not sure he’s my absolute favorite character in the novel, but very close anyway.)  Ponyboy struggles to understand the world and refuses to let his bad experiences decide who he’ll become.  There are so many times that I just want to reach through the book and give him and Johnny alllll the hugs.  One of my favorite Ponyboy moments is when he picks up the broken glass in the parking lot because that’s just…yes.  That’s who he is.


5. Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins) – Who doesn’t love Peeta?  Or, at the very least, appreciate him and his goodness and devotion.  It can’t have been easy to love Katniss all the time, as prickly as she is, but Peeta remained faithful through so many horrific circumstances and it was all worth it in the end.  But even without his relationship to Katniss, Peeta is still very much his own character.  I wonder what his family was like (aside from the glimpses we get of Mr. and Mrs. Mellark).  Peeta’s wish to become more than a piece in the Gamemakers’ hands originally has some disastrous results, but he never gives up on that ideal and it’s inspiring.


6. Konrad Reichmann (Songs in the Night trilogy by Jack Cavanaugh) – Perhaps the least familiar name on this list, Konrad is nevertheless a hero worth knowing.  Brainwashed into Hitler’s youth movement – and, after that, the German army – Konrad resists the truth at first, but after talks with his pastor and the death of his best friend, he quickly comes to realize the futility of the Nazi movement and becomes a protector instead of a fighter (though he still does fight occasionally).  Konrad stays true to his moral code through the dark days of WWII and the East German regime, which is amazing.  He’s one of my favorite Jack Cavanaugh characters ever.


7. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee) – Speaking of staying true to one’s moral code…  Okay, so, I don’t really view Go Set a Watchman as canon because it was a first draft and characters can change so much between first draft and finished book.  And Atticus in TKAM is basically a no-words-can-fully-explain-how-truly-great-this-character-is character.  One of the only fictional characters who has been truly influential in my own life, making me strive to maintain my integrity and treat others with more understanding and kindness.


8. Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) – Sydney is a little hard to categorize and he’s really not a role model, but he’s still one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.  And not just because of his final sacrifice, though that is a big part of it.  The way he apologizes to Charles and is best friends with little Lucie and watches over both mother and child so carefully and determinedly…makes me cry and smile.


9. Jest (Heartless by Marissa Meyer) – I WILL NEVER GET OVER JEST.  He’s one of those characters (and Meyer certainly has a way with creating them) who gets under your skin and then into your heart and never really leaves.  At first glance, he seems like a silly (though intriguing) court joker.  But, really, he’s Quite Important in Chess, as well as being smart and charming and kind and loyal.  I’ve heard people criticize Cath’s insta-love for him but, really, can you blame the girl?  AND THEN HE DIED AND IT WAS STUPIDLY HORRIBLE.  But I still can’t think of him as dead (especially not in such a dreadful way).  He was too alive when he was alive.  If that makes any sense. 


If you know who drew this, let me know so I can credit them. 🙂

10. Howard (Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins) – Every time I re-read the Underland Chronicles, I’m more and more impressed with Howard.  When you first meet him, you think he’s a bit of a jerk (but only because Gregor thinks that), but he proves himself time and time again throughout the series.  Howard isn’t without his faults – being willing to watch Twitchtip drown is a big example – but he freely owns up to his mistakes and apologizes for them.  Plus, he’s incredibly compassionate.  Plus, he’s a doctor.  Plus, he’s just plain awesome.  Quite possibly my favorite character in the series, though it is a pretty tough call.


Someone I know pointed out that Asa Butterfield would make a great Howard and I agree.  Even if I do want him to play Gregor, too.


There you have it!  Ten of my favorite fictional heroes.  Do you spot any favorites on this list?  Who are some of your favorite fictional guys?


book review: the sea before us

35069215.jpgIn 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.


I want to hug this book and (almost) all the characters.  The first book I read by Sarah Sundin (With Every Letter) left me bored and wondering why everyone raved about her.  With this book (her newest, I believe) I understood.  I’m a huge fan of WWII fiction (and nonfiction) and I enjoyed learning about Operation Neptune, Wrens, and the Navy in general.  There was a real, vital plot that wove throughout the romantic parts and so I could enjoy the romantic parts even more.

The characters are what really had me hooked, though.  From the first few pages of the prologue, I’d already fully connected with Wyatt, which was AWESOME.  Dorothy was a lovely heroine, if a little dense at times.  There were times when her relationship (or lack thereof) with Wyatt irritated me, but that’s to be expected in a ‘will they or won’t they?’ plot, right? (Also, I love the cover because you can see Dorothy’s freckles and they are Important.)  I’m looking forward to the next two books in this series soooo much because I can’t wait to learn more about Adler and Clay and see if the three brothers are reunited (they have to be!).

Highly recommended to all fans of WWII novels, historical fiction, and sweet romance.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.


lovely blog party: couples for couples tag

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On the one hand, I’m really totally not in the Valentine’s Day mood this year.

But on the other, this tag has been floating around the blogging world for a while now and today’s pretty much the perfect day to answer it.  So here goes…


Ivanhoe and Rebecca: Name a couple that should have been together

Cath and Jest (Heartless).  I’m still reeling from the emotional pain of this relationship.  Jest was perfect and Cath would have been perfect had Things Gone According To Plan and then he was MARTYRED and Cath became a stupid monarch and it was all kinds of awful.


Jo and Laurie: Name a couple that should have stayed friends…or did stay friends…

Any girl in Robin’s life besides Marian (BBC Robin Hood, you know).  Kate and Isabella were huge mistakes.  In fact, I can’t decide who was a bigger mistake for Robin – and that’s saying something not great about Kate because, I mean, Isabella ending up killing Robin and all.



Jane and Mr. Rochester: Name a couple that looked like the chances of a happily ever after were next to none!

Katniss and Peeta  (The Hunger Games). *bawls*  They both could’ve died a hundred times over and Peeta gets brainwashed in the worst possible way and for most of the series it’s like there’s not even a thought of a happy ending for them.  And it’s incredibly heartbreaking.


Jane and Mr. Bingley: Name a couple that is just sooo happy!

Barney and Valancy Snaith (The Blue Castle).  Now I want to live in a tiny cabin and be outrageously happy every day… ❤

Kit and Ella: Name your favorite fairytale couple

That would be Flynn/Eugene and Rapunzel (‘Tangled’).  Unless we’re talking fairytale retellings, in which case I sooooo ship all the couples from the Lunar Chronicles. (Except Kai and Levana.  Because that’s just gross.)  But, yes, Eugene and Rapunzel are golden.


Molly Gibson and Roger Hamley: Name a couple where the woman is basically ignored by the suitor until the end of the story

Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot (Persuasion).  Captain Wentworth is kind of jerky and I don’t much care for him, but he and Anne are a good couple.  Except for the whole ignoring thing.


Sarah and Jacob Witting: Name a couple that found love later in life

Konrad and Lisette (Songs in the Night series).  They weren’t too old when they finally got married (late forties, at most) but it took so long for them to find each other after the events of the second book in the series.  One of my favorite ships ever.


Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon: Name a couple from a musical

Don and Kathy (‘Singin’ in the Rain’).  Because I couldn’t think of any other musical couple that I shipped as much as them.  From their highly unorthodox first meeting to ‘You Are My Lucky Star’, I’m entranced by their love story.


Anne and Gilbert: Name a couple that didn’t start out on the right foot

Belle and the Beast/Adam (‘Beauty and the Beast’).  Definitely didn’t start out on the right foot. 😀


Faramir and Eowyn: Name a couple with the sweetest love story

Lucy and Jack (‘While You Were Sleeping’).  THEY ARE THE MOST ADORABLE COUPLE EVER.  It’s so cool how they gradually fall in love without even realizing it and, sure, it’s a little clichéd, but also incredibly sweet.  Plus, the movie itself is one of the coziest, loveliest films I’ve ever seen.



How many of these couples do you ship, too?


ten movies I like better than the books they’re based on

The book isn’t always better…


‘Frankenstein’ (1931)Frankenstein remains my least favorite book of all time.  The movie wasn’t too much better, but at least it was more interesting and Boris Karloff is awesome.


‘Mary Poppins’ (1964) – In the book, Mary Poppins is quite unpleasant and vain and I really don’t understand why so many children and adults found her appealing before the Disney film came out.  Anyway, the movie is near and dear to my heart and I’m interested in the sequel that’s hitting theaters this year.


‘War Horse’ (2011) – A short, dull book into which Steven Spielberg breathed new life. (Plus, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch sharing scenes?  I rest my case.)


‘The Little Prince’ (2015) – Okay, so I do like the book.  But it was a little strange and unintelligible (to me, at least) and while the movie is much the same, I like the new plot and Jeff Bridges’ voice acting and the aching (yet strangely hopeful) melancholy pervading almost every scene.


‘Brooklyn’ (2015) – The movie was a romantic gem, the book was long and boring.


‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010) – The book and the film don’t share much recognizable material between them, but I infinitely prefer the film.  The book is comedic, I suppose, but the movie has comedy and heart. (And gorgeous music.)


‘Little Women’ (1994) – I really do like Little Women.  But Louisa May Alcott’s writing tends to get on my nerves (so much moralizing!) and the 1994 film has a magical glow about it that never fails to move me. ❤


‘The Inheritance’ (1997) – Another Alcott novel, and this one is chock full of Elsie Dinsmore-like characters and plot points.  The movie is a lot better, with a fine cast, good music, and a good story that feels more ‘inspired by’ rather than based on the book.


‘True Grit’ (2010) – Part of my liking the movie better than the book may have been because I watched the movie first and it followed the book so closely that the book’s sparse writing style made me feel like I was reading a script for the movie.  Whatever the reason, I much prefer ‘True Grit’, the movie to True Grit, the book.


‘Little Dorrit’ (2008) – Partly cheating, because it’s a miniseries, but the book is as long as a miniseries, so it works.  I like how certain characters (especially John) were presented better on screen than on page.  And this version is really special to me personally, so there’s that.



What are some movies you prefer to the books they’re based on?


the twenty questions book tag

Snatched this tag from You, Me, and a Cup of Tea.


1. How many books are too many in a series?  I have never read a series that I felt was too long.  However, I don’t particularly like the trend I’ve seen lately where popular YA authors publish a dozen prequels and bridges and short stories because if you really love the series, you’re running around trying to collect them all and you buy them separately, but then they put them all into a single volume with a SPECIAL BONUS STORY NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED and it’s a mess.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?  Love them if I have the next book right there, ready to be read.  Hate them if the reverse is true.

3. Hardback or paperback?  Paperbacks are more personable in my opinion, but hardcovers look nicer.  It’s a toss-up!


4. Favorite book?  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  Whenever I re-read it, it always gives me such a warm, glow-y feeling.

5. Least favorite book?  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  Could not stand it.

6. Love Triangles, yes or no?  If you put a love triangle in your book, it had better be perfect.  And since it won’t be, please don’t.  Some of my favorite books have love triangles but there’s only one or two I can actually stomach.  The Hunger Games series is one and I think it’s because Katniss doesn’t ever spend three pages angsting about who she’s going to chose. (Also, Divergent and the Lunar Chronicles didn’t have a love triangle, but there was still plenty of romantic tension.  It can be done, people.)


7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?  Hamlet, Globe to Globe.  It was super interesting well-written but there were a lot of f-bombs. *sigh*

8. A book you’re currently reading?  Nothing at the moment, but I hope to start The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin soon.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?  Gregor the Overlander.


10. The oldest book you’ve read?  The Iliad?

11. The newest book you’ve read?  A Sidekick’s Tale by Elisabeth Grace Foley.  A western comedy that I heartily enjoyed.

12. Favorite author?  Jane Austen. ❤


13. Buying books or borrowing books?  Buying.  But borrowing will work in a pinch.

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  For starters, I really shouldn’t have read it in the first place because there’s soooo much swearing and content to wade through.  Also, no teenagers on earth talk like that.  Also, I don’t think John Green understands much of what cancer is really like and it kind of makes me angry now.

15. Bookmark or dog-ears?  WHY WOULD YOU MAR THE PRECIOUS PAGES OF PRECIOUS BOOKS.  (So…bookmarks all the way.)


But this is also sacrilege.

16. A book you can always re-read?  The Outsiders.  Any Jane Austen book.  Ender’s Game.

17. Can you read while hearing music?  Technically I can, but I’d much rather not.  Especially if it’s vocal music instead of instrumental.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?  One point of view, usually, unless the author can pull off multiple POVs very well indeed (examples: Wendy Mass, Lynn Austin, and Orson Scott Card).


19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?  Depends on the book.

20. One book you read because of the cover?  I don’t know if I’ve read any book specifically because of the cover, but I do tend to pick up free Kindle ebooks based mainly on the cover’s quality.

Feel free to do this tag if you want!