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2019 Year in Review + Favorites Awards!

I guess I have myself pretty well pegged by now, as I completed exactly the amount of books I set out for myself in 2019, which was 24 books.  That was more than I had read in the previous 4 years, so hooray for me! 😀  Do you reach any reading milestones?

I read some great Christian living non-fiction books this year, tried a lot of new-to-me authors, did some rereading and even stepped out into the cozy mystery genre a few times.  I also decided to quit my third-party book selling on Amazon, and haven’t been attending as many used book sales.  That freed up more space around here for my ever-growing home library.  I now have two half shelves of space (but not for long)!

This is the part of the show where I say “This is the part of the show where I answer silly questions with silly titles from silly (or not so silly) books…”  I play this every year and it’s a real blast!  This year, there’s a few more questions thrown in.  I will try not to repeat:

Describe yourself:  “This Is My Body,” by Ragan Sutterfield

Describe where you currently live:  “Uncle Sam’s Plantation,” by Star Parker

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:  “Ashenden,” by Elizabeth Wilhide

Your favourite form of transportation: “Slow,” by Brooke McAlary

What’s the weather like:  “Rhythms of Rest,” by Shelly Miller

You and your friends are: “Between Us Girls,” by Sally John

You fear:  “The End of Law,” by Therese Down

What is the best advice you have to give: “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success,” by Wayne Breitbarth

Thought for the day: “Distinctly You,” by Cheryl Martin

My soul’s present condition: “Seated with Christ,” by Heather Holleman

How I would like to die:  “Love’s Awakening,” by Laura Frantz

2019 can be summed up as: “Respect for Acting,” by Uta Hagen

If you looked under my couch you would see: “The Shape of Sand,” by Marjorie Eccles

At a party you’d find me (with/in etc.): “The Country Beyond,” by James Oliver Curwood

At the end of a long day I need: “The Enchanted Hour,” by Meghan Cox Gurdon

My fantasy job is (to be): “Million Dollar Baby,” by Amy Patricia Meade

To fight zombies, I’d arm myself with: “The Woman in White,” by Wilkie Collins

A happy day includes: —-

On my bucket list is/are: “The Fortunes of Captain Blood,” by Rafael Sabatini

If I was competing in the 2020 Japan Olympics/Paralympics, my chosen sport would be: “Rooted,” by Banning Liebscher

Almost filled in all the blanks!  It’s more fun when you have a longer list of titles to work with.  What would your answers be?

Arranged by category, my 2019 Favorites Awards are as follows:

What fiction book won my heart this year?…

#2 in the Gormenghast Series was just so much fun to read and though some books may come and go, not many leave such an impression as the world Mervyn Peake created, on the edge of insanity and pure bliss.

Here’s to another wonderful year of reading; may it be informative and full of wonder and imagination!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2020 in Reading Habits

 

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Audio Theatre Central, please and thank-you!

If you enjoy audio dramas (especially well-made ones) and have not yet checked out the Audio Theatre Central podcast, you need to do so ASAP.  These guys have the latest news concerning all things audio drama.  Not only that, they are very knowledgeable about their subject matter and have insider information.  What I particularly appreciate is their continual clarion call to excellent standards within the industry.  And we’re talking FAMILY FRIENDLY stuff here, folks (what a relief)!  No gore, no filth– just good quality auditory imagination.  Yes, it exits.  *Make sure to check out Episode 124 in particular, where yours truly gets a shout out!  😉

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Movie Review: “King Solomon’s Mines”

Based on the book by Henry Rider Haggard. 

Version: 2004 

Genre: adventure; romance

Plot Summary:  When Elizabeth Maitland’s father, a learned archaeologist, is kidnapped and held for ransom by a native African tribe, she goes in search of her father’s guide—the hunter known as Allan Quartermain.  Together they search for the ancient mines of King Solomon, and the African king Twala who seeks total power.

My Review: I am well aware that “King Solomon’s Mines” has been made into various films and tv series during the length and breadth of cinema’s history.  For good reason—the Haggard classic holds much danger, adventure, and extraordinary exploits.  It’s ripe for Hollywood’s picking!  I also am aware of the temptation said industry has of injecting a love affair in the middle of the drama where there was none in the book.  (Actually, there was but only between two minor characters.)

Richard Chamberlain as Allan Quartermain.

I much prefer when movies stick at least relatively close to the book.  That being said, I wanted to watch at least one film version.  Even though I pictured Quartermain looking more like Robert Chamberlain, I determined not to watch the 1985 one starring him and Sharon Stone.  As a comedy, the trailer of it looked more painful than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  I have high pain tolerance, but not that high.  I would love to see the one with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, but that is unavailable to me at the time being so I settled for the more recent two part series starring Patrick Swayze and Alison Doody.

I mentioned I have high pain tolerance, yes.  Or else I wouldn’t have stuck with this version to the end.  Story was completely reduced, gutted, and stuffed.  Acting was middling at best, accents fake, the landscapes dubious, the suspense killed, and the romantic chemistry: zilch.  The only thing that resembled the book were the characters’ names.  A new plot was entirely made up, containing villainous… Russians.

“What the hell are Russians doing here?!” shouts Quartermain.

I nearly laughed my head off.  Yes, really!  Even the time period was scooched from the Victorian era closer to WWI in order to create a rivalry quest between Miss Maitland, her amorous hero and the Tsar and his goons.  Sort of like, a resuscitated Raiders of the Lost Ark plotline or something.

My land.  They even have the mythical love of King Solomon for the Queen of Sheba being the cause for why he built the Temple.  As though it were some Hebrew Taj Mahal and not the dwelling place of the Most High God.

There is very little content to be afraid of as far as language, bedroom scenes or gore.  (There might have been one or two uses of ‘damn.’)  For a standalone piece of entertainment, this might pacify an evening.  But seriously folks, read the book.  It is much more exciting!  [read my book review here]

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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Movie Review: “Papillon”

Based on the book by Henri Charriere.

Version: 1973; starring Steve McQueen; Duston Hoffman

Genre: adventure; survival; based on true story.

Plot Summary: In the 1930’s, two convicted criminals are sentenced to life imprisonment and arrive in the French penal colony of Guiana where they soon forge an enduring friendship through the many years, adventures, and tortures to follow.

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.  

This was a story I did not know I needed to know about.  I had never heard of the book, or of the movie, and it was not until writing this review that I learned of a new remake starring Charlie Hunnam in McQueen’s role.  There’s always some room for tales of imprisonment and escape in my strange soul, so when I happened across this older movie it did not wait long on my watch list.

This is nearly a three hour film.  The pace is slow and mostly quiet, as to be expected when your hero spends 5+ years in solitary confinement.  Don’t worry, it’s not as painstaking to watch as it sounds!  Henri Charriere, wrongly accused (as far as we trust our main character’s POV) of murder spends all of his time from the very first minute scheming his way out of captivity.  We, the viewers, are right along with him each step of the way.  The time and detail it takes for these real life persons to plan an escape which their very life and sanity depend on is suspenseful and has us glued to the story instead of watching the clock.  Our emotions are invested into the very human characters we watch who try so hard to live.

If you’re looking for a clean flick, this isn’t going to be for you.  Death, starvation, and madness are the order of the day.  Men are killed as a matter of course, and sometimes there is quite grisly detail.  In an atmosphere such as this, it would be unrealistic for the script not to include swear words.  So of course, that factors liberally into the movie as well. One prison guard has a hankering after one of the prisoners and wants to sexually abuse him.  The prisoner appears to go along with it for a time, but only as a means of eventual escape.  It is common for the inmates to smuggle their belongings in places where the sun doesn’t shine.  If I remember correctly, there may have been a brief scene of backside (prison context) nudity.  What actually bothered me more than that was an island setting in which all the tribeswomen wore nothing at all and we see full frontal nudity.

Despite all of this, I came away doing a lot of thinking about this movie.  The thing that stood out the most to me was comparing the two main characters: Henry Charriere (or, “Papillon”) and his friend Louis Dega who was sent to Guiana for forgery.  Their friendship is begun for survival’s sake.  Papillon can easily handle himself in any situation, with quick wits to boot but not much clout among other prisoners or guards.  Dega on the other hand, is physically undersized with round glasses that couldn’t possibly get any thicker which produces a wrong-end-of-the-magnifying-glass-effect when we look at him.  However, his secret weapon is literally the stash of cash he sits on and he is able to bribe for opportunities.  In one of the most touching parts of the story, Papillon risks his life to protect Dega when he is being beaten.  This action lands him longlasting consequences.  It brings Dega to tears to think that an innocent man would be willing to put his life in jeopardy for him, who is justly convicted of his crime.  It made me think of Jesus, the innocent lamb who was slain for us, the real sinners.  It was an eloquent portrait of biblical truth.

Eventually, through many trials and hardships, the two men are brought together once again where they have to face a decision: remain in captivity, or attempt escape (quite possibly ending in death or worse, recapture).  It is rather pitiful the situation they are in, yet in some ways it could have been worse.  Will Papillon be content to live the remainder of his years on Devil’s Island where he could live in comparative peace?  Or will he convince Dega to risk the dangers of escape and perhaps be able to attain true freedom once again?

SPOILER ALERT:  Papillon never once abandons his idea of the pursuit of freedom.  I believe giving up his busy mind over this matter would have consigned him to insanity.  Dega on the other hand, was never strong of body or mind.  He found a little piece of joy right where he was and made it into his own.  He had nothing left to go back to.  Was one view right and the other wrong?  I don’t think so.  Two different temperaments, different personalities, with different limitations.   Each did what they could with what they had and what they were made for.  This, of course, is taking the question of guilt out of the equation.  END OF SPOILER.

I know this film will not be for everyone.  But I found some redeeming aspects of it that I encourage anyone so inclined to give it a try.  I am looking forward to seeing a newer version, but Steve McQueen was very good in his role, and Dustin Hoffman provided some comic relief.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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2018 Audio Theatre Central Seneca Awards Night

The Audio Theatre Central Seneca Awards were held last night, and by my good fortune I just happened to stumble across it and stayed up late listening to it live.  (You can view my post about the nominations here.)  Although I missed more quality productions from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre in recent years, and am missing Aaron Fuller’s influence on the G.A. Henty Heirloom Audio Production, the new show The Adventum (which won Best Long Form Audio Drama) sounds very interesting.  I also loved the emphasis put on the connection between old-time radio dramas and today’s auditory adventures.  You can click here to listen to the awards, and to find out more about family-friendly God-honoring drama!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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2018 ATC Seneca Awards

Like audio dramas?  Audio Theatre Central has announced the nominees for the 2018 Seneca Awards, which recognizes the best in the audio drama production industry.  Winners will be announced in July.  As a plus, these are all family friendly stories, so they can be enjoyed on those long summer vacation road trips!  There are so many exciting things happening in the audio world.  I’m really looking forward to The Adventum!  Posts to as many trailers as I can find are below:

Operation Mosul (The Brinkman Adventures)

The Treasure of the Secret Cove (Lamplighter Theatre)

The Adventum, Vol. 1

Black Rock (The Shadow Remake)

Escape from the Eagle’s Nest (Lamplighter Theatre)

Come and See

Heirloom Audio Productions have also come out with St. Bartholomew’s Eve and For the Temple, but unfortunately I could not find trailers for those.  And Lamplighter Theatre’s quality seems to be improving every year!

 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Random Books Post: Yard Sale Season Begins

Hi, there~ Yard Sale Season has officially begun but I haven’t had the opportunity to get out there as much as I have the past couple of years.  Even when I have I’ve mostly found cool craft items.  Still, I have found a couple books here and there which I will post below:

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Book Shopping

 

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