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Tag Archives: biography

C. S. Lewis Audio Drama

I wish it had not taken me so long to listen and pass this excellent audio drama on to you, but such has been my [lack of] blogging activity lately I’m afraid!  The Northern Irish Man in C. S. Lewis* stars Geoffrey Palmer as that famous author, who reminisces about his childhood in Ulster.  The acting felt very realistic and it was interesting to find the pieces of Narnia that inspired Lewis as a boy.  Settle in and enjoy, but don’t forget that this is only available for a limited time!

*For some reason cannot insert link to text, so click on picture to take you to the drama!

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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Random Books Post, the Thick of Yard Saling Season

It’s about time I posted about my random book findings, as I have about three STACKS (deserving of capitals) to update on.  Please forgive me for posting links to goodreads.  It was just a little too much HTMLing for me.  But as always, you can click to view them up closer on slideshow and read my comments on them all.  Ready?  Here we go!:

I told you. random. stacks.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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Movie Review: Arthur & George

a132774421c11e3ae8cb67a56f895dcdBased on the book by Julian Barnes.

Version: 2015; starring Martin Clunes; Hattie Morahan; Michael Gregson

Genre:  mystery; period drama; biographical

Plot Summary: George Edalji is the son of a respectable vicar from India, under suspicion of murder.  Sir Arthur is a famous mystery writer grieving the death of his wife.  The two are fatefully connected and the latter takes it upon himself to clear Edalji’s name so he and his family can live in peace.  But things are not so clear cut and simple as they seemed at the beginning.  The details of the case get weirder and weirder, and the body count rises.  Can Arthur Doyle solve the mystery in time, or is George really guilty of the crimes?

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

I’d been seeing the book at the library lately, and was itching to watch something other than Downton Abbey on PBS, so I gave this movie a shot. I’m so glad I did!

Atmosphere, suspense, historical period setting—all the ingredients for the perfect mystery are present in this Masterpiece film! Everything from creepy music, tweed suits, Clunes’ Scottish accent, the glow of candles, and the crunch of autumn leaves contributed to the mysterious atmosphere that pervaded throughout all three episodes of the story.  It kept my attention well, and although I had to rewind to catch certain details and may not have followed the plot/motives entirely, I still highly enjoyed watching it. I’m not sure how much was based on actual truth or if it was pure fiction, but I found the actors believable, and Martin Clunes especially so in the role of Dr. Doyle.

During the course of the story, we discover that Sir Arthur is filled with remorse over the fact that he had an admiration for another woman while his wife was still living. I appreciated this element.  Later, Doyle pursues a relationship with the woman he loves, and when accusations are thrown against it, he insists he had never used her as his mistress.  The rest of the film is pretty clean, except for perhaps mild swearing, some unsightly animal killings and a rather gruesome death at the end.  Probably the most unsettling is the pervading sense of unease throughout, which I found to be quite fun!

If you’re in the mood for a spooky-strange mystery, I’m sure you will enjoy this Victorian-era flick!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Used Book Shopping at Thrift Stores

Ah!  🙂  Time to grab a chai and a blanket and for a little ‘random book shopping’ post!  There aren’t a ton this time around, but I can tell you I was pretty excited over these:

*This was the best find out of all of them!  Have you heard of the story of Diet Eman?  This brave young Dutch woman defied the Nazis along with her fiancé in hiding Jews during WWII.  About ten years ago, I listened to a recorded speech she gave that aired on Focus on the Family.  It was split into two parts and I remember being so engrossed in the Part 1 and not wanting to miss the next day’s continuation.  But I was unable to at that time (didn’t have the benefit of looking up past programs on the internet), and was so sorry to have missed it.  A short time later after moving to another state, I saw a flyer announcing a small community theater performing a play based on Diet Eman’s biography.  It was said that Diet herself may be there to meet and greet afterward!  I was so excited and we all bought tickets.  The play (named after the book, “Things We Couldn’t Say”) was riveting.  Unfortunately, Ms. Eman (who is now quite elderly) couldn’t make it that night and we never got to meet her.  But.  I was looking through the wealth of books at a local Salvation Army store and came across her autobiography in great condition.  And when I opened it up… I saw she had autographed it!  !!!!!  How COOL is that?!  I am so thrilled and honored to have a book signed by her own hand to keep for my own and pass on.  It is my hope that I get to meet her one day in person.

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You never know what you might find at a thrift store!  Do you have any special book finds?  Please share!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Summer 2016)

Thought I’d get my Summer non-fiction faves posted before summer turns to fall!  Ha!  During what’s left of this season, learn the truth about discounts and controversial figures…

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family, by Steve & Annette Economides ~ I’ve been on a coupon, money-saving roll ever since last summer when I read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Couponing” by Rachel Singer Gordon (see book review here). Although I wouldn’t consider myself an extreme couponer, I have felt the thrill of being able to stretch the budget a little further.  As many of you know, I’m an avid listener of Moody Radio and I have heard the Economides interviewed on In the Market with Janet Parshall. So I was curious to take my saving skills a little deeper and check out their book from the library to see what I could learn from yet another book.  I found their style user-friendly and appreciated the fact that they were writing from a Christian worldview.  The Economides aren’t hoarders, but they are savvy and make it their life calling to teach others how to save money.  I probably won’t be following all of their advice in their book (for example, grocery shopping one day a month or grinding my own meat), but I’ve been implementing a few tips here and there.  For example, we’ve reorganized our whole deep chest freezer to be able to utilize it more efficiently.  We’ve also gone the extra step to print out price tracking sheets for each item we regularly buy and chart the price differences from the local stores we frequent.  I wouldn’t have believed it would make that much difference, but it does and the work pays off!  I learned organization is the key.  I’m already benefitting greatly from the Economides’ book.  Hooray!!

The Story of Alice, by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst ~ How much do you know about Charles Dodgson (aka, Lewis Carroll), the author of Alice in Wonderland?  If you’re like me, you knew little snatches here and there.  Something about a boat ride and a real little girl named Alice.  And oh yeah, wasn’t he in love with her?  Forget all you thought you knew about Mr. Dodgson and introduce yourself anew with this well researched biography.  Although I didn’t read it cover to cover, I did find it fascinating as I spent several days skim reading my way through.  I really appreciated that the author didn’t clamp onto scandalous rumors in order to churn out something sensational.  He thoughtfully presented all the possibilities and the end result was a well-balanced account that one can make up one’s own mind about.  It’s my opinion that Charles Dodgson was an old-fashioned Victorian who was terribly misunderstood in his own day, and especially in our’s.  I also enjoyed looking at his hobby photographs displayed in the book.  I think this would be of interest to anyone who is an Alice fan, or who enjoys history.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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Movie Review: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

6963bf970042a53305d53fb5b6afaca7Based on the non-f book by Terry Ryan.

Version: 2005; starring Julianne Moore.

Genre: drama; biographical

Plot Summary: Evelyn Ryan is a housewife and mother of five who keeps her family afloat during the 1950’s by entering jingle-writing contests.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

I vaguely remember reading something similar (about a mother entering contests to make money) in an old edition of Reminisce magazine at the dentist’s years ago.  It may have been about the same family, or perhaps another family of the same era.  In any case, I interested in seeing this movie with a strong, female character.  Also, I was wanted to see Julianne Moore’s acting since she won an Oscar last year for Best Actress.  I was not expecting this film to be as thought provoking as it was.

You’re a hardworking housewife with a family of 10 kids. You’re husband has a job but drinks all the money away.  It’s the 1950’s.  Few women work outside the home and there aren’t many options.  What would you do?  For a woman named Evelyn Ryan, the answer was sitting right in front of her in the living room via the television. Decades ago, it used to be that companies would put out commercial contests in which ordinary citizens could win prizes and cash money by winning jingle-writing ads for products.  But there weren’t many who could actually say they made a living off of it.

b8596f51518b3a0ca2c8ac5898239391It’s remarkable the talent, creativity and ingenuity that an ordinary woman with no degree in anything had to put food on the table. Most would shrivel up in bitterness and negativity, full of blame and despair.  But even though the Ryan children grew up in a family with an alcoholic father, they saw their mother persevere with optimism and a compassionate attitude toward her husband.  We see the family’s story through the eyes of the middle daughter, Tuff.  Their pain is not masked by a fake smiley-face and the realities of growing up in a dysfunctional family take their toll, but their mother’s strength manages to keep them all together through the many hardships they face.  As a result, the children grew up to be quite successful adults.  The complicated interactions between Evelyn and her husband are well acted, and the food scene in which Mr. Ryan begins a tantrum while Mrs. Ryan enjoys her meal was quite interesting psychologically.

I enjoyed the acting, costumes and props in this movie. There really is no adult content, but there are some curse words (during the father’s drinking binges).  There is some sensuousness between husband and wife, but nothing gets graphic.  I believe my favorite scene was when Evelyn wins an all-you-can-pack-into-a-cart-in-10-min. shopping spree.  Do not cross a woman with a method!

It’s hard for me to say if this is a ‘family movie’. It’s not easy watching the themes presented, but sadly it is a reality for many in this world.  It may be one for parents to prewatch if they have concerns.  Otherwise, I really would recommend it.  There was nothing shabby about the quality of this film, and there was a lot of retro eye candy for vintage lovers!

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Movie Reviews

 

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Book Review: “The Secret Rooms,” by Catherine Bailey

18079634Genre: mystery; non-fiction; WWI

Plot Summary: [from goodreads.com]  “After the Ninth Duke of Rutland, one of the wealthiest men in Britain, died alone in a cramped room in the servants’ quarters of Belvoir Castle on April 21, 1940, his son and heir ordered the room, which contained the Rutland family archives, sealed. Sixty years later, Catherine Bailey became the first historian given access. What she discovered was a mystery: The Duke had painstakingly erased three periods of his life from all family records—but why? As Bailey uncovers the answers, she also provides an intimate portrait of the very top of British society in the turbulent days leading up to World War I.”

My Book Review: I rarely pick up bookpage, and when I do I am always reminded of why I usually don’t read it (there aren’t many of their recommendations of books that I would want to read). But occasionally I do come across a nonfiction book or two that catches my eye, and The Secret Rooms was one of these. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest time in reading a 60 chapter non fiction book cover to cover if it wasn’t going to be as interesting as it was cracked up to be. But I was wrong.

I’m listening to the theme music from Downton Abbey, and there’s a reason for that. If you are a lover of that famous miniseries, you’ll probably like this book! The blurb on the back cover says it reads like an Agatha Christie, but I disagree. It’s more like Nancy Drew meets Downton Abbey.

This book was SO hard to put down, and I often don’t say that. I found myself mesmerized all through breakfast and picking it up to read a page in my spare moments. I kept telling my mom the newest part of the story that I had read, so she heard it in episodic installments.

When author Catherine Bailey set out to write a fiction novel based on real life people who lived through WWI, she decided to do research at the archives of Belvoir Castle. She already knew plenty of WWI history, so when she discovered missing info. in an otherwise meticulously kept family library, her curiostiy took hold and a whole different book project began. This non-fiction work is the result of her findings.

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

Every chapter leaves you on the edge of your seat. One question leads to another even more mysterious. Dukes, Duchesses, a haunted castle, lies in a chapel, gold dusted letters, ciphers, rumors, mysterious illnesses…

I can’t believe all the work and minute research the author went to put together the missing pieces of the puzzle and make this story as complete as she could. It was an amazing story of a sad family in desperate times. The story of the Manners family is one of Dysfunction with a captial ‘D.’ I won’t give away any spoilers, but I kept thinking that this was one twisted family living without the light and peace of God in their lives, especially the mother.

There is one thing I felt disappointed about and that is that there were 3 ‘mysteries’ (or, gaps of missing info in the family archives) that the author set out to solve. She did, to the best of her ability but the first two didn’t make a whole lot of sense of why these events had been kept so secret. I’ve read complaints that the mysteries weren’t very exciting once discovered, and I could see where one could make that case. However, the book was so much fun to read anyway, that I didn’t much mind. The actions of some of the real life players in this family drama were certainly unbelievable. It was the process of reading an intriguing true-life mystery that was the most fun.  I also appreciated  that a goodly portion of the book is dedicated to pictures, some of them slightly eerie, which definitely gave some visual context to what I was reading.

If you’re in for a blizzard, or a few days of sick leave, this one is for you! It’s one of those good reads that I lamented nearing the end of.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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