Category Archives: Year In Review

2013 Year In Review: Non-Fiction

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Top Ten:

1. ANGELS IN THE ARCHITECTURE by Douglas Wilson & Doug Jones (review)
2. DEATH BY LIVING by N.D. Wilson (review)
3. IN DEFENSE OF SANITY edited by Ahlquist, Pearce, & Mackey (review)
4. BED AND BOARD by Robert Farrar Capon
5. CONFESSIONS by Augustine
6. ORTHODOXY by G.K. Chesterton (review)
7. THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE by Carl Trueman (review)
8. REFORMED IS NOT ENOUGH by Douglas Wilson
9. THE CHRISTIAN IMAGINATION edited by Leland Ryken
10. THE RIGHT STUFF by Tom Wolfe (review)

Honorable Mentions:

11. THE SUPPER OF THE LAMB by Robert Farrar Capon
12. THE SEARCH FOR GOD AND GUINNESS by Stephen Mansfield
13. PENSEES by Blaise Pascal
14. IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES by Richard Weaver (review)
15. TOTAL TRUTH by Nancy Pearcey

2013 Year In Review: Fiction

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Top Ten:

1. THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL by G.K. Chesterton
2. ISLAND OF THE WORLD by Michael O’Brien
3. THE CROSSING & CITIES OF THE PLAIN by Cormac McCarthy
4. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoevsky
5. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
6. ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
7. THE CHILDREN OF MEN by P.D. James (review)
8. WOOL by Hugh Howey (review)
9. CORALINE by Neil Gaiman (review)
10. THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE by G.K. Chesterton

Honorable Mentions:

11. OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi (review)
12. BEOWULF: A NEW VERSE RENDERING by Douglas Wilson (review)
13. OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
14. CELL by Stephen King
15. DEADRISE by Robert Whitehill (review)

2012 Year in Review: Movies

Top Ten

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1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Artistically and thematically brilliant, Nolan’s final Batman film is a triumph of superhero storytelling: ambitious, thought-provoking, emotional, and redemptive. A spectacular achievement on every level. When I say the trilogy couldn’t have ended any better, I mean the trilogy could not have ended any better. I could go on and on about how amazing it all is, but ultimately, my verdict can be summed up as follows: not only is this the biggest, boldest, and best Batman movie of them all, it’s the most magnificent superhero film I have ever seen. Simple as that.
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2. LOOPER (2012)
A carefully constructed sci-fi action-puzzler that runs as smoothly as clockwork. Thrilling? Yes. Action-packed? Yes. But look beneath the guns and gadgets and you’ll see something even better: a thinking brain and a beating heart. Bravo, director Johnson. Bravo. You’ve given us a sci-fi film for the ages.
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3. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012)
It’s good to be back in Middle Earth again. There are a few minor technical missteps – and some (understandable) liberties are taken with the original material – but the overall result is so sumptuous, so exciting, and so impressive that any flaws are easily forgiven or forgotten. This is epic fantasy filmmaking at its very, very finest. Jackson has laid a terrific foundation for the rest of the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to Part II.
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4. THE AVENGERS (2012)
The finest film Marvel has yet produced. Flawless casting, spectacular set pieces, thrilling action, clever writing, and an enthralling story – all revolving around superheroes that are truly super. Forget big, dumb fun. This is big, smart fun. Big, smart, explosive fun.
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5. THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (2010)
Not for the weak of heart (or stomach), but a powerful film nonetheless. The story itself isn’t new or incredibly original, but it gains a lot of emotional heft from the bond between the two lead characters: a thing of beauty amidst so much ugliness. The performances of Bon Win and Sae-Ron Kim are understated yet wonderful, and the action is brilliantly done, making most Hollywood stunts look silly by comparison.
Continue reading 2012 Year in Review: Movies

2012 Year In Review: Fiction

Top Ten

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1. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Now that I’ve finally read this, I can’t help but recommend it to every single person who crosses my path. It is at once a gut-wrenching morality play, a brilliant psychological study, and a gripping crime thriller (not to mention a stunning refutation of Frederic Nietzche’s “Superman”). It’s dark and heavy, yes, but also shot through with hope; a story that affirms both the lostness of the human condition and the power of Christ to save.
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2. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
This acclaimed novel is ostensibly a courtroom drama, but such a description does not really do this profound and multifaceted book justice. Through the eyes of a child, Lee explores the evils of racial prejudice with subtlety and power, gracing her story with an elegance so unspectacular it’s spectacular. More than once, I had to pause and read passages aloud, just for the pleasure of rolling them off my tongue. Full review
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3. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card
As far as science fiction goes, Ender’s Game isn’t good, nor is it great – it’s brilliant. Winner of the Hugo and the Nebula awards, this bestselling novel by Orson Scott Card is a stellar fusion of action and ideas; a story as intellectually challenging as it is relentlessly entertaining. (The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, is also terrific). Full review
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4. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien
This is not a novel, nor a memoir, nor a short story collection: it is, instead, an exquisite combination of all three. Through this unique but effective merging of fact and fiction, the author paints a picture of his life (and the lives of his fellow soldiers) before, during, and after the Vietnam war. And what a picture it is. Full review
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5. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s either one of the best novels I’ve ever read… or it’s one of the best novels I’ve ever read. They call ‘em classics for a reason, and this one is no exception. Beautiful writing, thought-provoking story.
Continue reading 2012 Year In Review: Fiction

2012 Year In Review: Non-Fiction

Top Ten

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1. THE WAGES OF SPIN by Dr. Carl Trueman
I predicted back in April that this book would probably be “the best piece of non-fiction I read in 2012.” Turns out I was right. This essay collection is short, sharp, challenging, and frequently hilarious: a prime example of why Trueman is one of my favorite writers. Full review
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2. TEN WAYS TO DESTROY THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR CHILD by Anthony Esolen
The title is potentially misleading: this is not a book exclusively for parents. Anybody can (and should) read this book, because anybody can (and will) benefit from it. It’s a witty, gritty, and delightfully subversive assault on the Bastions of Modern Educational Theory and Practice, and Esolen’s satiric flair is worthy of Uncle Screwtape himself. Full review
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3. WORDSMITHY by Douglas Wilson
My favorite writing book. Whether you want to write full time, or merely have a passing interest in it – this slim little volume should be on your shelf. It’s just that good. Full review
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4. BLACK HAWK DOWN by Mark Bowden
One of the ugliest, most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Ugly for its depiction of modern warfare; beautiful for its depiction of the men who endured it. A must-read if there ever was one. Full review
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5. JUST DO SOMETHING by Kevin DeYoung
Want to know what the subtitle is? How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Full review
Continue reading 2012 Year In Review: Non-Fiction