The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser
I haven't read much Christian fiction before, and it wasn't until I got this book home from the library that I realized it was from Bethany House. It turned out to be a pretty good read, although it was slow and long in parts. The book felt a little dialogue heavy, and a lot of that dialogue was an attempt to approximate Black Vernacular English that didn't always feel authentic. It was a good, uplifting sort of story once I got into it.
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
This was a newer book that follows the trend of mixing elements from fairy tales with contemporary life. Alternating chapters tell the story of a boy who is kidnapped by fairies and replaced with a "changeling". I thought it was a decently written book and I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't read it again.
The Way we Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz
This book is heavy on statistics and dates from the early 1990s, so that made some parts of it difficult to read. Also, I didn't always agree with the author's interpretation of the statistics. But it was still an interesting read and I especially liked her central point that too often we rely on assumptions and stereotypes about the past that are just incorrect.
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
I have had numerous friends recommend Potok to me and tell me how much they love his books. I really struggled to like this one, and I thought the writing was great. But I never liked the main character very much, and I also managed to end without really understanding the world of art or the world of Judaism. Maybe I just read this book at the wrong point in my life, because I sympathized with the parents more than with Asher.
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
This was a fun little book that I read in a few hours. The story of a woman who was both very traditional (she didn't drive, had 10 kids, etc.) and yet very willing to do her own thing was inspiring to me. The book was well-written too, which was good because it could have easily become overly sentimental.
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Another quick little read, but also very entertaining. The author manages to write about her rather average girlhood in a way that is interesting and insightful. It kept making me wonder if I could recall incidents from my childhood in such detail. Probably not.
You Can Count on Me
This movie was a lot like a well-written short story: it was mainly good for its acting and dialogue, without a strong plot or fabulous cinematography. It felt very true to life and I enjoyed it.
Maria Full of Grace
I liked this movie a lot too; again, it was the acting by the main character that really was the best part of it. It also made me nostalgic for my mission. I didn't serve in Colombia, but I worked with immigrants from all over Latin America that reminded me of the characters in this movie.
I mainly watched this in order to increase my cultural literacy, but I really enjoyed it. The camera work was interesting, the music was perfect, and I enjoyed the irony.
Sometimes it's nice to watch a good, fluffy movie. This one is perfect and I enjoyed most of it. Hugh Grant as the prime minister was completely unbelievable, but that didn't matter since he still managed to be charming.
I ended up watching this movie twice; I liked it that much. I'd heard about it a few years ago when it was new and cool, but for some reason the description really didn't appeal to me. It turns out to be a very interesting, thought-provoking movie. It's also a rather dark movie, but somehow you come away at the end feeling enlightened somehow.
I checked this out because I'd read a review proclaiming that it was better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So of course that caught my eye and I had to see for myself. I'm not sure I could say it was better, but it's at least as good. For one thing, it's gorgeous. And the plot has a lot of interesting twists and turns. I just wished they had subtitled the beginning introduction since I had no idea if that was important to read or not.