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Tag Archives: suspense

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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Movie Review: “Lincoln”

 

3dead818f8bb0491dba54bfac1dd62b2Based on the book, “Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Version: 2012; Daniel Day-Lewis; Tommy Lee Jones; Sally Fields; David Strathairn; Lee Pace; Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Genre: historical drama

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.”

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

I remember reading high praise for this movie when it first came out. Actually, I believe I had my eye on it when it was first announced it was in the making, and Daniel Day-Lewis was cast in the role of Abraham Lincoln.  The similarities between their looks are amazing, but would the movie do history and the man himself justice?

Oh wow. I can’t begin to tell you about the amount of research that went into the creating of this film.  I would love to know more about the ‘making of’ it.  I do know that the actors and actresses really gave this one their all and went into full-depth character to accurately portray these historical people.  Day-Lewis in particular researched Lincoln’s mannerisms, way of walking, speech, and voice in order to become him.

I am not so steeped in Civil War history as to know how many facts in this movie are correct, but I do know that it was inspired by the thoroughly researched book, “Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The author worked closely on the making of the film as well.

LINCOLNActing is top-notch. I really felt as though I were viewing a fragment of my country’s history, and that felt exciting.  Even though I knew how history played out, this movie caused me to doubt for a little bit what would happen.  The behind-the-scenes politics of history made for a tense plot and kept me on the edge of my seat.  In fact, it was so identifiable in this day and age and maybe that’s why I felt nervous for what would happen.

One drawback of the film is that many of the historical facts presented escaped me in one viewing. I will definitely need to rewatch it to glean more from it.  Because of this, I felt somewhat confused and didn’t understand some of the plot structure.

However, I did learn a lot about the genius of Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always had the impression that he was so morally simple as to be sort of uninteresting.  Not so!  This man had a talent given to him by God that he used in the time and position he was placed in.  He was an absolute chess-master at politics, but had a core of integrity that kept him straight and true.  I believe watching this shed some light for me in deciding how to vote this past presidential election.  It also caused me to love a person I’ve never met, and left to wonder why God would allow such a man who did so much good and suffered greatly for it, to die at the hands of an assassin so soon after victory was achieved.

My favorite scene is near the end, with the singing of “Battle Cry of Freedom.” It was so inspiring, and caused me to be grateful to God for His working in our country’s history.  When’s the last time you felt excited about history?

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2018 in Movie Reviews

 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2017-18)

A new year; what will it bring?  Curiosity, intrigue and surprises are in store for us this winter with these books!

Escape from Colditz, by P. R. Reid ~ This book has long been on my mom’s shelf.  She and I share the same interest in stories of WWII, including POW experiences and especially escape attempts!  I remember the Steve McQueen film The Great Escape was a favorite of mine from around age 8.  So of course this was on my reading list!  The problem was that I was confused because it goes by several different titles, has different editions, sequels, compilations—which do I choose to read?  As it turns out, I wish that I had gone with Reid’s later edition, “Colditz: The Full Story”.  His first history of Colditz was written a mere few years after his experiences and he did not have more details until much later.  I will be getting my hands on that version [as well as several films on it], but yet I can recommend these books by Reid because they make for great reading. Reid appears to keep a light “stiff upper lip” attitude toward his captivity, yet I’m sure things were rougher when suffering the reality.  I originally thought this would be a detailing one large escape attempt, rather like the one from the famous Stalag Luft III (The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill).  Instead, I quickly found it to be a narration of the author’s experiences at the fortress Colditz and the numerous failed and successful escapes made from there.  More like Hogan’s Heroes though much more serious, real, and dangerous.  The prisoners’ innovativeness, and ability to laugh and create entertainment even in a sparse atmosphere was enjoyable to read.  No matter how many avenues were thought of, tried, discovered, foiled and so on, they could always come back with another idea to escape.  Reid said there were basically two types of prisoners—those who succumbed to their imprisonment, and those who could deal with the depression that accompanied it and so put all their energy toward escape plans.  Which one would you be?   

A Curious Faith, by Logan Wolfram ~ I’m still finishing up the last chapters of this book, but it certainly has come to me at the right time.  I’m immediately drawn to any book with the word ‘curious’ in the title (for obvious reasons), but add the topic of Christianity on top of that and I’m all in!  I have been gleaning so much from it and copying out large passages of quotes.  This definitely is a great book to start the new year off right.  Worry, waiting, fear, control, decision making, spiritual dryness, and disappointment are a part of every human’s life.  But in the context of a curious following after God, how do we deal with these everyday things well?  How do we endure and trust with joy and childlike faith?  I think if you have these questions, you will enjoy author Logan Wolfram.  She writes simply yet eloquently.  She has really helped to make has certain Scripture come alive for me.  I can’t wait to finish this and highly recommend it to my sisters (or even brothers) in Christ!   

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Fall 2017)

I just realized I have not posted my favorite non-fiction books for this fall yet!  So I will squeak them in the tail end here before December.  My dashboard has not been cooperating with me the last few weeks, so pictures and links are not as I would like but I’m trying to work with it.  So read on for some books about spiritual journeys that I’m sure will be inspiring!

Until We All Come Home, by Kim de Blecourt~  I am finishing up this book (about 90% of the way through it), but am blown away by the incredible journey this ordinary woman of faith endured while she and her husband were in an international battle to adopt their Ukrainian-born son.  I feel it is easy to connect with this woman because A) she does not live too far from my corner of the world; B) she works in voice over; C) it seemed that almost everything imagineable was determined to block her path.  If you find yourself easily frustrated by myriad details, this book might not be for you.  Still waiting to see how this ends, but it is wonderful seeing how God worked in the middle of her long waiting period, during which she battled depression and severe spiritual oppression in a dark part of the world.  I often find myself praising and thanking God for how He answered her prayers, even if her story wasn’t easy.  I hope to meet Mrs. de Blecourt one day.  I highly recommend this read! 

The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning~  Do you find yourself running on fumes spiritually?  Need a cup of refreshing water in the middle of your desert?  I had heard a lot things about this author, Brennan Manning.  I’ve heard good; I’ve heard bad.  I know people I respect that that admire his work, and others view it with fear.  I determined to read at least one book by him and find out for myself what I thought.  I started with this particular book because it is his most famous.  To be honest, my opinion of it alone is an elevated one.  I found such encouragement in his word pictures, his simple eloquence.  It is imaginative, well-written, and a classic in it’s own right.  It seemed I’d read a passage in a chapter right when I needed it at that time.  The major theme it dwells on is the grace of God.  Manning reflects the easy yoke and light burden God offers to us “ragamuffins”.  I could quote my favorite parts, but would much rather you tried it for yourself.  Does this mean I would agree on everything with Brennan Manning?  No, I will not commit to that; I believe it is always wise to test instead of blindly accept anything we come across.  There were one or two things I’m not sure I would completely agree on even in this book.  And yet, I found the good far, far outweighed those areas.  My advice is to be prayerfully engaged while reading.   

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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Book Review: “In Sheep’s Clothing,” by Susan May Warren

1247812Genre: suspense; Christian; contemporary; romance

Plot Summary: [from goodreads] On the run from the murderer of her best friends, missionary Gracie Benson is all alone in Siberia. What she doesn’t know is that she has in her possession a medical secret that will save millions of lives — or cost her’s. Trying to keep her alive is an FSB agent, a man pursued by his own demons, including a killer who destroyed his father’s life. He and Gracie find themselves in a decades-old mystery of betrayal and Cold War secrets. Only with the help of their friends — a group of Americans and Russians committed to freedom — can they outwit the old guard . . . and save Gracie’s secret, as well as her life.”

My Book Review: One of the things I often look for in a book is a setting in an exciting far-off place with a little intrigue, mystery, and suspense.  Of course, some romance along for the ride doesn’t hurt, either!  This book has all of those elements and it was an entertaining read.  One of the things that made it interesting was that the author has had past experience in being a missionary in Russia with some exciting adventures of her own, just like the heroine Gracie Benson she writes about.

Although I wouldn’t consider Warren’s writing style the best I’ve ever read, I did enjoy the plot twists. The pace kept moving and kept me interested to find out what would happen next.  I also loved reading about Russia (ehnd verking on my Rrrussian ehccent!).  The Cold War has always intrigued me and although the story is set in the modern day, it doesn’t escape the effects of that era.

e24f5c8ea9477d8016e3c1681a56cd1cOne thing I didn’t like was how the romance part of the story develops so quickly over the course of 2-3 days between Gracie and FSB agent Viktor. For the longest time Gracie fights her attraction (but doesn’t do too well of a job of it).  This is for the reason that Viktor is not a believer in Jesus and as a missionary she doesn’t believe in being unequally yoked.  That makes sense to me as a Christian.  It’s really hard to maintain a relationship when two people don’t believe the same fundamentals.  I realize that most of Warren’s audience will probably be Christian, but for anyone who isn’t this teaching comes across as arrogant if not explained well.  I felt the book missed an explanation.  To top things off, SPOILER ALERT Viktor eventually comes to faith in Christ and so –how conveniently- can begin dating Gracie.  This is just too gift-wrapped and bow-tied for my satisfaction.  It’s like we’re all so happy he’s a follower of The Way so he can kiss Gracie.  I would have rather it hinted that he and she *might* follow through on a relationship sometime in the future, once the chaos of the plot was over.  It would have been more believable. END OF SPOILER.

There also seemed to be an awful lot of unnecessary characters peppered throughout (in the form of Viktor’s friends), but I was glad to see that the sequel picks up with them. There is actually a trio in the series Mission: Russia”:

  1. “In Sheep’s Clothing
  2. “Sands of Time”
  3. “Wiser Than Serpents”

I enjoyed the action of this first book enough to want to go through with the rest.  So, if you like a bit of drama and romance, I think this will peak your interest!

I also recommend…

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: “Nightbringer,” by James Byron Huggins

untitledGenre: suspense; Christian fiction, fantasy

Plot Summary: A group of tourists are stranded at a reclusive monastery high up in the Italian Alps.  But that’s the least of their worries.  A hair-raising screech in the dead of night lets them know they and the monks are not the only ones at the ancient abbey.  What is out there and what is it looking for?  And who is the mysterious hero in their midst who seems to know more than he’s telling?

My Book Review: I became interested in reading another book by author James Byron Huggins after I finished his novel, “Rora” (see my review of it here).  I hunkered down with this adventure in the winter and prepared to be entertained.

This was an easier read than Rora.  The latter dealt with the hard historical account of the Calvinist martyrs in Italy, while Nightbringer was more in the fantasy/supernatural genre.  Although this isn’t the first or the last Christian novel to deal with the subject of the Nephilim, it was the first I’ve read, and I was entertained with the ‘what if’ of what would happen if the descendants of Anak were still on earth.  Of course, if this were truly the case it would very unsettling, but in fiction it makes for great adventure!

The first third of the story was the most interesting to me, as it was able to keep my interest with it’s mystery. But once that mystery was revealed (too early on), the suspense was dropped.  Unfortunately, I felt the author got himself into a rut in the middle of his story.  I was quickly bored reading about one battle after another with the Nephilim beasts and the descriptions that went on page after page.  In every episode, it seemed Cassius (our hero) was severely wounded worse than he ever had before, then quickly recovered and preparing for his next battle, where he was wounded worse than ever before that… and the cycle would go on chapter after chapter.

I can see guys liking this story perhaps more than I did. It has the action, the battles, the hero that may appeal to them.  But it is not a serious work of fiction, and definitely not literary.  If you are looking for something exciting and light, this is for you.

If you liked this book, I also recommend…:

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Movie Review: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead

eb573d1180cc7b5cbff9aae960b7398fBased on the book by Agatha Christie.

Version: 2008; starring David Suchet.

Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A pair of photographs are the only clues that Poirot has to solve the murder of a village charwoman, and to prove the innocence of the victim’s lodger.”

My Review: To be honest, it’s been a long time since I read this particular Poirot mystery.  I remember it had a lot of female characters, and it was the first time I had read anything where the character Ariadne Oliver made an appearance.  I also remember I enjoyed the mystery a lot, because it featured a common storytelling technique of Christie’s, which is to involve a mystery with roots beginning far back decades ago and the detective must piece together how the current generation of characters are affiliated with the past.  I couldn’t recall the details, however, such as who was killed, who had done it or why.

This is one of the more recent Poirot productions starring David Suchet, compared with when they first started filming them in the 1980’s. The quality of it is very good, and I loved the creepy atmosphere of the film!  The period set contributed heavily to this, along with a swirl of yellowed dead leaves, and the signature Poirot music.  Love, love, love it!

Another thing I appreciated was that this murder mystery wasn’t gorey and it didn’t make me feel too uncomfortable. On the flip side, it could also be considered predictable.  I cannot verify if it stayed true to the book, but to the best of my memory I believe it was for the most part.  Poirot was his lovable old self, and the new role of Ms. Oliver (played by Zoe Wanamaker) was totally convincing as the Agatha Christie-herself-inspired character.

This movie makes for great autumn entertainment, so grab a comfy blanket, slippers, and hot cocoa, and have fun some evening!  🙂

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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