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Tag Archives: classic-literature

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea

0bba4907568246579cbeaea9a220b52fBased on the book Nathaniel Philbrick.

Version: 2015; starring Chris Hemsworth; directed by Ron Howard

Genre: adventure; drama; based on true story

Plot Summary: Herman Melville is looking for his next greatest story in order to make ends meet and thinks he make have a lead.  An aged seaman has a story to tell, if only he can glean the truth from him.

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

I make no apology for my puns. I was hooked from the first glimpse of the trailer.  I only wish I could have seen it on the big screen!  Oh, the drama!  It seemed to promise to do big scale justice of the story behind the world’s most famous whale.

And it delivered! What a riveting tale told through great acting, costumes, props, the works!  Best of all, a story that kept me glued throughout.  This was right up my alley of love for seafaring adventures.

Parts are a little hard to stomach, such as how the whalers went about harvesting whale oil. But it seemed historically accurate, and similar to the book “Moby Dick” in many ways (capturing the factual details of the whalers’ chores).  Also, a group of men adrift at sea are forced into some difficult decisions, SPOILER ALERT: namely cannibalism.  But we are not shown graphic details. END OF SPOILER.

I think one of my favorite aspects of it was the psychology behind the different characters. When you have an extreme situation with different people coming from different backgrounds, with different values and beliefs, what will each person choose and why?

It was apparent to me that this film was made with somewhat of an agenda [ie, whaling was ALL bad], and not one I would entirely agree with. But it did make for an exciting story and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for an older audience.

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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in Movie Reviews

 

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Audie Awards 2018 Tonight!

In case you didn’t know, the 2018 Audie Awards are being hosted tonight!  You can watch it live on Facebook here.

You can also view a list of the nominations by clicking here.  Among the names and titles that caught my eye:

Paul McCusker’s audio drama (I didn’t know he had a new one!) entitled Brother Francis, and starring Geoffrey Palmer.  He also has another audio drama I didn’t know about!: “The Trials of St. Patrick” (starring John Rhys-Davies).

Treasure Island is also among the nominated audio dramas.

Rachel McAdams is nominated for Best Female narrator for “Anne of Green Gables.”  (Does her red hair make her sounder redder?)

Both Kenneth Branagh and Stephen Fry are up for Best Male narrators for “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Sherlock Holmes” (respectively).

Martin Sheen narrated “The Home Front” and Phylicia Rashad narrated “My Life, My Love, My Legacy” –they are nominated for Best History.

“Captain Bayley’s Heir” (Heirloom Audio Productions) is another audio drama, nominated for Faith Based productions.

Another Christian fiction title is “Catching the Wind,” by Melanie Dobson.

For classics lovers, “Daisy Miller” (Henry James) and “Phineas Finn” (Anthony Trollope) are nominated.

I just noticed that Johnny Heller is being nominated for his part in “Wedgie & Gizmo”.  I had the privilege of seeing him and his wife in person, and asking a few questions.  (I’m name-dropping now; I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t know me from Adam.)

Oh yeah– and let’s not forget Scott Brick. 😉

Have you listened to any of these?  Feel free to provide reviews!

 

 

 
 

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Characters Series: Heroines with Names

What’s in a name? Really, I mean it. I recently heard accomplished professional say that the only thing you really own in life is your name. Our pastor preached a sermon on Sunday in which he told us he would give us two names to see how we would respond to each. The first was: Adolph Hitler. After a few seconds of gag reflex, he then gave us the name of our beloved pastor emeritus who is battling cancer. Immediately, a warm feeling and smile came to our minds. This is because name is actually made up of reputation. Reputation is made up of actions taken, or not taken. And our actions come from what we believe deep down. Jesus said that the one who hears His words and puts them into practice would be a Wise Man, and the one who hears and does nothing is a Foolish Man. Two names, two different reputations because of their choices in life.

It seems that many are flippant about the value of their name in this day and age. It used to be that a woman’s honor and reputation was a very precious thing to be protected at all cost. This can be easily observed among the ladies of Jane Austen’s fictional worlds. Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters do not have very much money to entice worthy gentlemen to marry them. However, they still have their dignity if they so choose. The youngest sisters (Lydia, in particular) flaunt themselves in public and behave in totally juvenile and inappropriate ways. Elizabeth is worried about what this communicates to others.  But we are only responsible for our own actions, and as Elizabeth’s father tells her, “Wherever you and Jane are known you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of—or I may say, three—very silly sisters.”  When Lydia runs away with Wickham, it does cast an unfortunate shadow across the entire family.  It takes men of excellent character- Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy- to look past that and recognize the treasure to be found in the two oldest Bennet girls.

Another Jane Austen character is also not so careful. In “Northanger Abbey,” Catherine’s friend Isabella Thorpe goes out of her way to attract male losers in Bath. Once she has sullied her reputation, she no longer has the respect of others. Her story is a sad one with no happy ending. Incidentally, Austen draws a connection here between a girl’s reading material and the lifestyle she chooses to emulate. Thank goodness our heroine Catherine finds better friends to hang around with before it’s too late!

Does this mean that a person’s good name once lost is lost forever? We certainly don’t have to live or die by others’ opinions of us, but it is very difficult to gain one’s integrity back again. That is why it is so valuable. Proverbs tells us that a good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed better than silver or gold (21:1). And Proverbs 3:4 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Unfortunately, it is popular in this #metoo culture to be found guilty based solely on the seriousness of the charge. A lot of good reputations have been shot down where there was plenty of accusation in the absence of crime. A heroine named Hero [don’t ask me how she got that name] finds this to be the case in Shakespeare’s famous play “Much Ado About Nothing.” Hero is engaged to Claudio, but an enemy spreads lies about her virginity and she is horribly accused at the altar. A state of mayhem ensues and Hero suffers miserably. We cannot always control what others think of us, and we are only responsible for our own actions before God. But Hero is lucky to have one who challenges her accuser to a duel to defend her honor. (This was obviously back in the day when gentlemen did such things). Because a good name is worth fighting for.

In real life, Billy Graham knew this well. I do not know of a more devoted couple than he and his wife, Ruth. Mrs. Graham asserted that even though her husband was often away on evangelistic duties, the times when he was home was worth more to her than if she had left him for someone else. And the Rev. Graham always maintained his marital loyalty by living by what is now called “the Billy Graham rule” (never being alone with another woman). Many may not follow this lifestyle for different reasons, but the risks do increase. How refreshing to know of two faithful souls who loved God and each other and modeled grace to us!

Another respectable real-life person that has recently passed away is First Lady Barbara Bush. Even if a person doesn’t care for Bush politics, I think deep down most would have to agree that she exemplified good character with good humor. Another Proverb says that “a kindhearted woman gains respect…”

Now more than ever, we need role models whose names inspire us to live similar lives of integrity. We need to be people who value our reputations, so that others will see God reflected through us and praise Him. We need the next generation to know what a good character looks like, amidst a world that says one thing and lives another. What is your name worth?

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2018 in Character Reflections Series

 

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Listen to “The Man Who Was Thursday” on BBC

Are you in the mood for a little G. K. Chesterton?  I enjoyed reading “The Man Who Was Thursday” a few years ago (see my book review here), but I am enjoying Geoffrey Palmer’s reading of it even more!  For a limited time, you can listen to it for free on BBC Radio 4.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Book Review: “Lavender & Old Lace,” by Myrtle Reed

7622682Genre: classic; romance

Plot Summary: Set at the turn of the century, career woman Ruth Thorne is on leave from her job as a journalist to stay at her aunt’s house by the sea.  While there, she uncovers a mystery in the attic concerning an old wedding dress, some newspaper clippings, and a lantern she is instructed to leave by the window every night.  How do all of these things tie together?  Who is the reclusive neighbor dressed in lavender and old lace?  And who is that charming young fellow down the lane?

My Book Review: Another sweet, light vintage read for me this year, simply dripping with mystery, lace, and romance.  I think I probably wanted to read this just because of the title.

I loved the character of Miss Ainslie the most! This is the reclusive older woman who lives next door to Ruth’s aunt, and the two used to be close friends.  I simply loved the description of her eclectic house and garden, and it made for a beautiful atmosphere.  Any scene which took place with Miss Ainslie had my attention.  The following is one of my favorite quotes I took from the book:

“The world had seemingly given up its beauty to adorn Miss Ainslie’s room. She had pottery from Mexico, China, and Japan; strange things from Egypt and the Nile, and all the Oriental splendor of the India and Persia.”

I also enjoyed the witty, humorous banter between Ruth and her lover. However, the book felt somewhat unbalanced as their romance took place too fast.  Then halfway through the story, Ruth’s aunt came back home from vacation dragging her long lost man behind her and that plot twist just felt too painful.  I was expecting Aunt Jane to be a mature, interesting person and looked forward to meeting her, but when she was introduced to the story I found her to be pitiful and short-sighted.  I would have felt sorry for her new husband, but I didn’t much like him either.

As much as I liked Miss Ainslie, she was also to be pitied as she goes through her daily ritual of being true to her own long lost love with no compensation after decades of loyalty. I found the whole story too unbelievable and miserable.  Honestly, I was glad when I was done with it.

If you like the hopelessly romantic stories of L. M. Montgomery, you may find some enjoyment out of this. Otherwise, I personally did not enjoy it and don’t particularly recommend.

You can listen to this book for free here.

I also recommend…

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: “The Melting of Molly,” by Maria Thompson Daviess

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Genre: classic

Plot Summary: Molly, a young widow, has a problem: she needs to lose weight and fast!  An old beau is renewing his acquaintance by coming back to his old hometown where she still lives, but she looks nothing like she did 10 years ago.  The only one who can help her attain her goal is the next door doctor.  But he likes her as she is.  What’s a girl to do when several men start to pay her more attention?

My Book Review: This was a fast, enjoyable read!  I originally discovered it on Librivox (listen to it for free here) and soon after found an old copy of it at a library book sale.  I found it cute that, in a story about a girl on a diet, a bookworm chewed a neat little hole through the edges of the pages.  🙂

The story takes place in the Gibson girl era, where things were not much different than they are today in that a woman’s worth was often judged on the dimension of her waistline. Only they had corsets back then to help them out.  Molly is a delightfully funny character, honest and vain, but thoroughly woman.  I loved the old illustrations throughout the book as well.  And the doctor was a swoon!  Perhaps one can see the ending from the start, but poor Molly can’t and it’s fun to watch her transformation when all the time she has a good man’s unconditional love.

This book is a simple read. Don’t expect too much out of it.  But if you are wanting to get into a cute little love story, this entertaining novel will probably satisfy.  Just ask the bookworm.

I also recommend:

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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IMHO- Children’s Books I Liked/Disliked Growing Up

Children’s books are still a reading option for one and all well into adulthood.  One does not outgrow a classic story worth its salt even if the wording is simplified for little ears.  Sometimes, that is the best way for a story to reach the heart.

Unfortunately, not all children’s books are discovered by us when we are children.  Not all children’s books that should be appreciated at a young age are until we are much older.  And not all children’s books are really worth reading at any age.

I’m not a literature professor.  But I was a kid once, and knew my taste in books.  I thought it would be interesting to do a post on the books I remember loving -and hating- when I was a kid.  The books I have listed as loving are titles I feel have been underrated (or at least, I haven’t heard them talked about much) and wanted to bring attention to them.  Were my tastes correct?  My opinion on some of these stories have changed over time (my commentary is provided with each).  Sometimes, there is no right or wrong (just unique) taste.

I loved: The Kingdom of Kidderminster books, by Christopher A. Lane.  Based on the parables of Jesus, good King Leonard and his animal kingdom learn familiar lessons in tales such as King Leonard’s Great Grape Harvest and Nicholas and His Neighbors.  The illustrations are rich and super cute.  These were also some of the very first “audiobooks” I narrated as a child :).  To this day I can’t hear of these parables in a sermon without thinking of Mrs. Beaver or Sir Humphrey.

I disliked: Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books.  I’m not sure why I could never get into them, but I have an idea it was the pictures of scraggly-drawn creatures.

I loved: The Goose Girl, by the Brothers Grimm.  A twist on the Cinderella story, the goose girl uses her creative talents to design a beautiful ball gown made entirely of white downy feathers.  This always captured my imagination!

I disliked: The Princess and the Pea, by Hans Christian Andersen.  I believe I now have this enigmatic fairy tale figured out, but as a little girl I was upset with the ending that did not make sense.  Could it be it was all about the noble use of discernment?

I loved: Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey.  Long chapters, great vocabulary, fun illustrations! For older readers.  My sister and I made a radio drama out of Nothing New Under the Sun.  I loved the small town setting with familiar characters in new adventures chapter after chapter.

I disliked: Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson.  I tried many times to start and restart this book.  I can’t tell you how many times I checked it out of the library.  But that old yellow cover just did not appeal to me and I could never get beyond page 2.

I loved: Incognito Mosquito, by E.A. Hass.  Not exactly a classic forevermore, but I’ll reckon maybe you never heard of it.  I’d done run out of Encyclopedia Brown books and was hankering for more of the like, when I come across a private insective with a gnat for witty bug jokes in rambling narrative who saves history slime and slime again.

I disliked: Paddington Bear, by Michael Bond.  I wish I could say this was a book I loved, but I required much more action and the marmalade-sucking, rain-dripping bear wasn’t cutting it.

I loved: Snow White & Rose Red, by the Brothers Grimm.  This was one of my favorites from the old Childcraft books.  I loved the story of two sisters, a cottage among roses, and of good things coming to those who are kind and loving.  I always wondered though- did they fight over marrying the bear prince and who would settle for his brother?  Probably not; they were so good, after all.  They weren’t like my sister and me.

I disliked: Diamonds and Toads, by Charles Perrault.  Rather an obscure tale overshadowed by the more popular Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  Ironically, although I didn’t like this story growing up, I believe I was fascinated with the idea all the same.  It isn’t what goes into a person that corrupts them, but what comes out of them (ie, the heart) through their words and actions.  But imagining frogs and toads coming out of their mouths made me shudder.  Actually, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be rewarded with diamonds and butterflies coming out of mine, either.

I loved: The Ivan Series, by Myrna Grant.  I think these books are almost unheard of among today’s generation, and probably were for mine as well (they were published in the 1960’s).  But my grandparents were church librarians at the time and that was how I discovered these gems.  Set during the Cold War era in Soviet Russia, the suspense had me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t get enough of them!

I disliked: The Pansy books.  If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan, you may remember a brief reference to these as books Anne and her friends passed around at school.  As a homeschooler, I had access to them as well and did read one called ‘Esther Reid.’  The books are basically moralistic Sunday School tales with great benefit, I’m sure– but I was bored to tears.  I could not bring myself to slog my way through another one, though my friend enjoyed them.

I loved: …The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin.  We had this as an oversized storybook when I was a kid.  There was something mysterious about this tale and its pictures that captivated me.  Perhaps it was partly because it was given to us by an old man with a funny accent and a mysterious past himself.

I disliked: Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.  I can appreciate this story now with a few more years under my belt, but as a kid the utter chaos lost me but good.

I loved: …The Story of the 10 Lepers, found in Luke 17:11-19.  I loved the stories of Esther and David and Goliath.  But there was something about this story as well, that made me fall in love with the one leper out of ten who had a heart of gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.  His simple and sincere thank you made Jesus smile.

I disliked: The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling.  As I said, I was usually much more into romantic stories of kings and queens than I was into half naked boys and mongooses.  It was just too different of a culture for me to understand and get interested in at the time.

What stories did you love or hate as a child?  Are there any you consider underrated that deserve more attention?  Share below!

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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