Hello, friends! As you all may have noticed, I kinda disappeared from this blog for about six months (has it really been that long??) Well!! I have returned from the dead. I recently celebrated my one year blogiversary on Full of Grace and as I was celebrating, I found myself missing this blog. So, I’m back. This blog won’t have that many changes coming, other than a more prominent focus on my faith. Hello, friends! As you all may have noticed, I kinda disappeared from this blog for about six months (has it really been that long??) Well!! I have returned from the dead. I recently celebrated my one year blogiversary on Full of Grace and as I was celebrating, I found myself missing this blog. So, I’m back. This blog won’t have that many changes coming, other than a more prominent focus on my faith. I also will be going by my real name (Rue) on here now. But, at the heart of it all, this blog is simply a book blog. Oh! Also! I will be going by my real name (Rue) on here now.
What do I mean by ‘a more prominent focus on my faith’? I mean that I’ll be reviewing more christian fiction and also will be ending my posts with the latin phrase, Ad Gloriam Dei, which means For The Glory of God. Just a little thing to keep on my heart, so that I don’t forget that this blog is for His glory, as opposed to my glory.
Anyways, you guys are probably wondering where in the world I even went while I was gone from this blog. I wish I could give some sort of dramatic answer, but the actual truth is that I was busy with school, and this blog got pushed to the side as a result.
I’ll be posting here once every Wednesday, Lord willing.
I can’t wait for you guys to see all the blog posts I have planned for this year.
Hii, darlings! I hope that you all had a lovely first half of July, and that your second half goes just as wonderfully. And if not, I dearly hope with all my heart and soul that you are at least able to see God in the midst of it and that things get better for you <3.
Today’s post is one that is a fairly controversial topic in the Christian community. I am not at all trying to pick a fight, and regardless of where you stand on the topic of Harry Potter & Christians reading it, you are allowed to have your own opinions on this topic and this post is in no way an attempt to try to get you to change your position. This is more of a gentle discussion that will hopefully spark more conversations about what media we as Christians should be taking in.
This post is part of a post series that I am excited to be starting. It is called “Should Christians Read…” and will basically be me discussing various books & genres and whether or not Christians should read them. This series was created because I myself have lately been trying to make better decisions about the media I am consuming, and hopefully I am able to help you guys as well. If you have any books or genres that you would like me to discuss whether or not Christians should read, please feel free to let me know in the comments.
Okay, wow. I’m gonna be completely honest with you guys, I am very nervous to be writing this, because what if I word things wrong? And what if I offend someone? I really hope I write this well <3.
A lot of Christians have chosen not to read Harry Potter because of the witchcraft aspect, so! I guess we will be diving headfirst into this part first. No Bible believing Christian can deny that the Bible warns against witchcraft. Revelation clearly warns against this, saying multiple times that the sorcerers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 9:21, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15).
But then the question is: what does the Bible mean by sorcerers? I personally take sorcerers to mean people who practice witchcraft and/or the occult. Anyone who uses tarot cards, a ouija board, palm readers, horoscopes, etc, is practicing the occult. So, the Bible means those people are sorcerers. The Harry Potter series does not include the occult in it (well, actually it does, but I will be elaborating on that in a second), so it should be okay for Christians to read, right? Notexactly.
Harry Potter does have one occult themed storyline that some readers may be uncomfortable with (I personally was not thrilled with it and personally think that J.K. Rowling could have left it out). Those of my readers who have read Harry Potter probably already know what I’m about to talk about. I’m going to talk about Professor Trelawney’s class. Professor Trelawney runs the divination class (fortune telling). She has the students read tea leaves and attempt to predict the future. She also has visions. So yes, this is definitely a problematic. I would like to point out that she is seen continually as a fraud throughout the series (although she does have a few visions that are real and VERY creepy), so you may want to keep that in mind.
The witchcraft in Harry Potter is undoubtedly the most problematic aspect. After all, as I recently mentioned, the Bible warns against witchcraft. But now I ask you all, is the witchcraft in Harry Potter actual witchcraft? It is all very silly and fake and fantasy-themed. Everything in the series is built upon a magic system and not a religion. I won’t be going too in depth into this because I feel that there is no need. But! I would like to point out that a lot of Christians who are uncomfortable with Harry Potter choose to read Percy Jackson (a MUCH more problematic series — I may or may not do a post about it in the near future). Percy Jackson is all about false gods and even includes prayers to the gods (it includes other things that are very anti-Christian). I personally am far more uncomfortable with Percy Jackson then I am with Harry Potter. Percy Jackson is literally about false gods?? And it never makes it clear that these gods are false? And besides, in the actual mythology, these gods are very sinful and evil, and yet in Percy Jackson, they are seen as good?? Personally, I would rather read a book series about magic (that is fantasy themed rather then wicca themed) instead of a series about false gods that are good.
Witchcraft is not Harry Potter’s only problematic theme. Throughout the series there is swearing, making out scenes, graphic violence, really dark storylines that may disturb readers, and gore. These alone should make us all wary of the Harry Potter series. One more thing we should stay aware of is that Harry Potter is not written by a Christian. Books that aren’t written by Christians may not all be problematic (I personally don’t read a lot of Christian fiction — although I am trying to read more because I feel like secular YA literature lines up with my beliefs less and less every day), but they definitely do not reflect a Christian worldview. And this is something we need to be aware of.
Something that I saw an article talking about while I was researching the topic of Christians & Harry Potter, was whether or not Harry Potter normalizes witchcraft. I mean, I will say that potentially because of Harry Potter, we (Christians) are probably desensitized to witchcraft. Someone who is a Harry Potter fan might go on to read a book with more occult themes and yet assume that “it’s just like Harry Potter, there’s not problem”. So yes, Harry Potter has definitely normalized witchcraft in our culture. We as Christians need to be more alert as more occult stuff appears in our world.
The final thing that I would like to end with is that as Christians we are called to love others. This means loving those who practice witchcraft and the occult. Despite not agreeing with their beliefs, we need to love them just as Jesus loved us. Jesus loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the drunks, and the broken sinners. He loves us, and aren’t we incredibly broken? Don’t we not deserve His love? And yet He chooses to love us. Can’t we follow in His footsteps and love those who practice witchcraft and the occult? If we hate on them, we leave a bad taste of Christianity in their mouths, driving them even further away from God. If we care for them, we get a chance to be witnesses to them. Don’t you want that opportunity? I know I do.
Oh! And I just remembered that the point of this post was to talk about whether or not Christians should read Harry Potter. I’ll talk about that right now. My conclusion is that it really depends on your conviction. I am comfortable with Harry Potter (as long as I remember that it is just fantasy and nothing more), you might not be. That’s alright. We all have our own beliefs and that is fine!! By the way, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please feel free to contact me if you want to have a more detailed conversation.
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Hii darlings, I’m here writing another post about autism and the autism experience!! This one is especially exciting because it is about writing autistic characters and I’m writing autistic characters for Camp NaNoWriMo! This post will cover how to write an autistic character. I dearly hope this article starts you off on your journey to write autistic characters (let’s keep track of how many times I say autistic in this post).
*Note that this is an exceedingly long post. I promise I’m not trying to spam you guys.
Remember that your autistic character is human, just like you
I think that this might be the most important aspect of writing an autistic character. You need to remember that they aren’t all that different from you, they still have feelings, they still breath air (unless they don’t — you can totally write non human autistic characters). I have feelings, okay? I feel things more strongly then the actual person. I get sad, happy, angry, infatuated, and more. You feel these emotions as well! See, we already have something in common. I guess what I’m trying to get across is that your autistic character doesn’t have to be weird to be autistic. A lot of autistic girls go undiagnosed because we are so good at masking our autistic behaviors (more on that in a second).
Throw them into genres that are outside of ‘autistic teen becomes better’
This genre is frustrating, and plain dehumanizing. I don’t particularly want to read a book that insults my autism and tells me that I need to be cured? Enough of these already exist? And i’m quite sick of them. The world does not need the mindset of ‘autism is something that is a mistake that needs to be cured’ to be normalized any more then it already is. Instead of focusing on fixing your autistic character, focus on maybe having them learn to manage living with autism better. Also! Not every autistic character needs to be in contemporary, we can have them in literally every genre. I would love to see an autistic character in a Christian novel, or in a fairytale retelling, or in some other genre. Just please make sure that you’re portraying their autism well.
Show the harder aspects of autism
I’m not here to lie to you guys, being autistic is not super easy. There are some really hard parts about having autism (which I talked about in this post HERE). For me these are social awkwardness, anxiety, and sensory issues. I actually had to be taught how to interact in certain social situations, because it just does not come naturally to me! I have to constantly remember to keep my explanations short. I have to keep remembering to act interested in what someone else is saying. This is all REALLY exhausting. by the end of a party or something, I am dead. Which can result in a meltdown! Which is not fun because it is basically a panic attack but with more screaming and crying and overall misery (in moments when I’m melting down, my parents are literally so amazing with helping me). Autism is hard, I struggle with loud noises and sensory experiences, I have sometimes debilitating anxiety. This is not to make you feel bad for me, it’s to make you understand a bit more. Also!! These are not the only things autistic people struggle with, they’re just a few of mine.
But also show the good parts of autism
But autism can also be really good!! Autistic people are super bright, creative, and are amazing people. I would be boring without my autism, I literally don’t know if i would be me without autism? Most of my personality stems from autism stuff. Did you know that some of the most famous people were supposedly autistic? Yes! They were! I lost my train of thought for this part, but basically autism is cool.
Talk about masking
Masking is one of my struggles that comes with my autism. I masked for three (?) years straight. I pretended to be extroverted, boisterous, and insensitive to people’s opinions of me. when quarantine occurred, I just had one big breakdown. Masking hurts and destroys your mental health. Doing it for three years really destroyed me. I’m doing a lot better now, but anyways this is something that you might want to talk about in your book.
Show them in day to day life, and also focus on how autism can affect them
Autism isn’t just something that appears once a week and then is gone, it is something that is there with you ALL THE TIME. I feel like in a lot of books with autism rep, the autistic character is only autistic when it is convenient for the author. That’s not real life, real life as an autistic person means autism is there every day. Autism affects me daily in ways you cannot imagine. At meals, all my food has to be separated with different plates and bowls so that I don’t get freaked out. I sleep with an ice pillow so that I don’t overheat and freak out. I had to leave the room multiple times last night while my family was watching Harry Potter because it had too much sensory input (the night bus is the bane of my existence).
Show this in your book!! Have your autistic character be at a party and have a meltdown because LOUD SOUNDS. Have your autistic character have a sensory attack because her mechanical pencil is too loud. Have your autistic character have to sit outside during church because the worship music is overwhelming her. I’m sorry that these are all sensory issue scenes, it’s just that my sensory issues are the biggest part of my autism. There are other ways to show autism in daily life!! Please show those and not just the examples I have given.
Don’t make autism the main plot point unless you really know what you’re doing
I am so sick of seeing books about being autistic that really know nothing about the autism experience. Please, for the love of cute cuddly puppies, do not write a story that revolves around being autistic unless you 100% know what you are talking about. If you are writing that story, please understand that it is a big responsibility. You are speaking into what it is like to be autistic. You are either helping others understand autism better, or you are furthering the spread of misunderstandings about autism. You had better understand exactly what autism is like when writing a story entirely about autism
Remember that no autistic is the same
you guys, just like no chronically ill person is the same, no autistic person is the same. we are people, just like you. We have quirks and emotions and actual personalities. We are not all sheldon cooper (who, I would like to argue, is never said to be autistic — although I have only seen clips from The Big Bang Theory for my social skills therapy I was in, so what do I know). Do not think this, we are just as diverse as any other community of people. Please understand this.
Get sensitivity readers
I know that there are so many more tips that I should give, but at the moment this post is long enough. Maybe I’ll do a part two, we shall see. Anyways!! This is the last tip and is super important. You need to get sensitivity readers who are on the autism spectrum, they can give you advice and input as to how you are writing your autistic character. Without them, you are doomed to write a poorly researched and written autistic character. Because, here’s the thing, you can research all you want, but in the end only autistic people can give you the input you need to make your story complete and realistic.
I have been feeling like God is calling me to take a break from this book blog and focus more on inspiring others in their faith through Full Of Grace (I may return here soon and focus more on the faith building aspect of writing and reading). I will be taking a hiatus of unknown time starting today. I will still be responding to comments though. Also! i will be renovating both of my blogs soon, so if you see a coming soon thingie when you visit them, that’s why <3.
Thank you so much for reading this extremely long post, it meant so much to me. If you are enjoying my blogs and/or this post, please comment, click like, and follow me for more content like this! Have a lovely day 💕.
hii darlings! we are literally halfway through the year and i am just,,, shocked. june was here and was gone in a *poof* and it’s just,, wow. we’re already halfway through the year?? which just feels incredibly weird and also wrong. i literally feel like i cheated time haha. anyways, i’m so excited to be doing a wrap up! this one with be more bookish/writerly focused, if you’re looking for a more faith focused one, please go check out my other blog, full of grace! fair warning, i think i forgot how to write a wrap up so um this will be interesting.
total books: 10
the secret of the heart note, by stacey lee/ four stars / okay, so, this was my *first* stacey lee book, and it did not disappoint. it was so cute and whimsical. i adored the premise of witches who can smell emotions and who use that to make people fall in love. it was so creative and enjoyable. however, i was not super thrilled with all the kissing, and also the romance was about a fifteen year old falling in love with an eighteen year old (i think, i actually don’t fully remember). but it was still a lovely read deserving of four stars.
a year of biblical womanhood, by rachel held evans/ four stars / you guys, this book was so interesting (even though i kinda maybe sorta skimmed parts of it). i learned so much about biblical womanhood and also robotic babies (yes, that was a thing in here). overall, this was really fascinating and taught me so much.
sisters, by raina telgemeier / two stars / this was actually a, like, millionth reread (and a very quick one at that) and this time, it didn’t fully hold up. i felt too old for it at times and was just disappointed.
love and gelato, by jenna evans welch / five stars / this book was SO CUTE. i loved it so much. lina was such a sympathetic character and ren was just so much attractiveness I LOVED HIM.
benbee and the teacher griefer, by k.a. holt / four stars / this book was so realistic. as someone with ADD traits along with autism, i found this super relatable. i mean,,, i didn’t get the video game aspect (i don’t play video games, i find them boring and complicated), but i still really enjoyed it.
love, life, and the list, by kasie west / four stars / this was really cute, but it was also fluff. it didn’t have much substance? like, it felt kinda,, floofy? but whatever, it was still cute. also the ending kinda destroyed me aisjcmfmb because i am an emotional human being who is emotionally destroyed after almost every book i read.
after zero, christina collins/ four stars / this. book. destroyed me. there are no other ways to describe it. the ending was so sad and the romance was subtle but cute and entire book was just *melts into a puddle of emotions because FEELINGS*
all american muslim girl, by nadine jolie courtney / three stars / i really enjoyed this from a story perspective, but according to goodreads, the muslim storyline was not super realistic? so i guess i’m taking two stars away from it. i will say though that it was well written and while i didn’t agree with the main character’s beliefs, it was still interesting.
pudge and prejudice, by a.k. pittman / five stars / this was the second book that has destroyed me this month. but not because sad, it was because the romance was so cute. i loved billy fitz and this entire book has made me want to read pride and prejudice.
hii darlings (yes, that is my new name for my readers), today i’m going to be reviewing a lovely book: we dream of space, by erin entrada kelly. i’m fairly nervous about this review because i’ve only ever written book reviews for school. so!! please bear with me as i figure this whole book review thing.
trigger warnings: anger issues, allusions to swearing, bullying, parent issues, death of astronauts in the challenger disaster.
note: the entire premise is about the challenger disaster, so please be aware of that.
book blurb: Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. This acclaimed Newbery Honor Book is a great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead.
Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.
The Nelson Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.
Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Spaceis an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers.
star rating: four stars
we dream of space was such a sweet book. i really enjoyed it. even though it was middle grade, and lately i’ve been reading more YA, i still adored it. all the storylines fit together nicely and were realistic. i especially liked how the entire story was all about an event in history, but still showed real life going on around it. also, not to be vain, but! the cover was absolutely gorgeous. it essentially tells the story all on its own (which is so amazing for a cover to do).
when it comes to characters, i really connected with bird and fitch. bird was so sweet and was a total people pleaser and fitch was a complicated character in the best way possible. my only issue was that bird was ‘not like other girls’. but, for some reason, that wasn’t all that annoying. one plot addition that i really liked was the whole discussion about whether or not bird was pretty and also what pretty means. this is something that so many girls grapple with, and i was glad to see this talked about. i really liked seeing how the author dealt with fitch’s anger issues, she showed them in a realistic way while still keeping him likable. both bird and fitch really felt like genuine twelve year olds.
cash on the other hand… i liked his character, but i didn’t feel like he served much purpose. sure, he was relatable and likable, but he wasn’t all that…memorable? i thought that his crush on penny was very sweet (and very realistic for a middle schooler), i was however disappointed that this didn’t go anywhere. basically he found out that she was dating another guy and that was that. i expected him to end up with her at the end, and i was mildly sad when he didn’t. although, truth be told, this is how most middle school crushes end (but i wanted the author TO GET THEM TOGETHER AHH).
the writing style of the book was absolutely lovely, erin entrada kelly is so talented. she told each ‘perspective’ in the third person, and somehow managed to nail each character’s specific voice. the space metaphors were all throughout, and while ordinarily they would bother me, i really felt like they added to the story. i read almost the entire book in like two hours, it was an extremely quick read for such a long book.
as for stuff i disliked, to be honest, there wasn’t a lot. but! that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t stuff. the first thing that was not great was the diversity. i don’t remember there being any characters who were people of color. i’m surprised that it wasn’t super diverse, it was published in 2020 (one year ago), you would think that it would be better. the second thing that i did not like was the timeline, the author spent nearly 400 pages focusing on one month. i really would have liked to see more time in the character’s lives. maybe there will be a sequel? the final thing that i disliked was the ending, it felt rushed and just didn’t feel very satisfying. there were still a few things that i wanted to see dealt with that were wrapped up way too quickly.
overall, we dream of space gets four stars from me. it was exceedingly well written, but it also had its fair share of issues. thank you all so much for putting up with the long rambly mess that is me after reading this book. i really hope you all have a lovely day <3.
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have you read we dream of space? what were your thoughts on it? let me know in the comments!!
hii readers, welcome to my book blog! in case you don’t already know me, i’m liesl (i run the blog full of grace — formerly known as xoxo liesl). i decided to start a book blog because i felt like my blog niches were clashing on my main blog (it originally began as a catholic lifestyle blog), and because i love everything to be in it’s place, i chose to put all my bookish and writerly posts on this blog. anyways, this is my first post on this blog (all my previous bookish posts will remain on my other blog), and so i figured i’d do the book blog newbie tag. i really hope you guys enjoy reading my answers 💕.
why did you want to start a book blog?
as i already explained, to basically keep my two niches from clashing. in addition, it because i wanted a blog where i could be a little less professional and use lapslock (basically not use capital letters). this blog will be basically me rambling about books and writing, with occasional discussions about autism and mental health sprinkled throughout.
where did the name ‘stars and stories’ come from?
it came from me wanting to do a blog called green tea and stories, but that didn’t flow very well haha. so, this was the next best thing. besides, it kinda fits my aesthetic. stars are cozy vibes and fun so yeah haha.
what can we expect from your blog in the future?
ahh i love this question. you guys can expect book reviews (hopefully soon — i actually haven’t written any except for school, so i’m a little nervous), weekly memes, ramblings, posts about autism and mental health, book lists, updates on my writing, writing advice, and other stuff like that.
why do you love reading? did you always enjoy reading?
because, i don’t know, it’s cozy, i guess? or maybe it’s aesthetic? or maybe because i feel more connected to book characters then to tv characters? yes and no. my parents used to read books to me when i was little (they read abridged charles dickens books to me), and i enjoyed that. but also, i hated reading until i was like eight or nine. something just snapped in my brain and suddenly reading was fun.
what are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?
because i am autistic, i will be sure to bring lots of discussions about living with autism. i will probably do lots of rambly silly posts because those are fun. i also really want to create a cottagecore readathon challenge so that might be fun.
when and where do you read?
basically anytime of day when i am sad or procrastinating or am just craving a book; i read in my bedroom on my bed, in my parents bedroom on their bed (they have a big bed and i have been known to steal it), the guest bedroom on the guest bed, and the couch.
what kind of books do you like to read?
ooh i like this question. when it comes to book types, i like to read middle grade and young adult. as for genres, i enjoy contemporary, coming of age, sad books, romance, and light small town books.
what is your favorite book and why?
the main street books, by ann m martin!! they’re amazing and while they are aimed at younger kids, i still love them. i’ve reread them every year since i was like seven or eight. they’re so wholesome and cozy and also have good disability representation.
who is your favorite author?
ann m martin!! all her books are very sweet and well written and just ahh she’s such an amazing author who is super underrated (the only stuff that she wrote that’s famous is the babysitters club series).
what’s one pet-peeve you have?
i have to choose one? i’m gonna say three because i have a lot of pet peeves and i can’t choose just one.
people snoring (it drives me INSANE)
gifs (i like them, but they annoy me when they keep repeating — they can be very distracting)
emojis (i’m sorry, i just really don’t like most emojis other then heart ones and these three: 🙃🥰🍑)
what is one book that has been on your TBR for ages?
pride and prejudice! i’ve been wanting to read it for so long, but every time i try, all the fancy words scare me away.
what is your favorite show?
i really like a lot of shows, so i’ll answer with my top five.
boy meets world
(technically not a tv show but) west side story
13. what is one non bookish fact about you
okay, here’s a list of two because if we’re honest, i could never answer with just one.
i have autism!!
i am a catholic convert, i was raised in a protestant home. i’m still figuring it all out though, at the moment i’m a mix of the two. i hope to chronicle my journey on my blog.
thank you so much for reading my very first post!! obviously, since this is my first book blog, it will change over time. i really hope you all have a lovely day 💕.