Tag Archives: young-adult

Movie Review: True Grit

Based on the book by Charles Portis.

Version: 2010; starring Jeff Bridges; Matt Damon; Domhnall Gleeson

Genre: adventure; classic

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:]  Mattie Ross, 14, from Dardanelle, Arkansas, narrates half a century later, her trip in the winter of 1870s, to avenge the murder of her father. She convinces one-eyed “Rooster” Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshall, to tag along, while she outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten types in her path.”

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’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while, but you should know by now I’ve never been up to speed on pop culture.  I have never seen the John Wayne movie made in 1969, so I cannot compare it to that or the book which (as stated) I have not read.

I could immediately see why this story is such a classic.  The plot sounds like one that could easily be written today.  One could also appreciate the detail and attention taken in the production of this movie.  Much of the story’s tone is cold and austere, the characters are often grungy and hardened.  This gave it a believable feel, taking place in a tough atmosphere and time period.

I was struck by such a quick-witted heroine only aged 14 years.  She is forced to grow up far too early and therefore she is mature and capable.  She doesn’t let any scoundrel monkey with her and isn’t shy in standing her ground.  She makes for a very admirable character!  The question isn’t whether she has true grit, but whether others are up to the task of staying faithful to their word even when the trail grows cold.

I wanted to give thought to the choice of background music.  Orchestrated by Carter Burwell, much of the theme delineates from the hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”  At first I wondered why this choice was made.  The sound fits well in the background, but what about that song connects it to the story?  After thinking about it, I realized that although the film is not overtly religious and many of the characters do not recognize God (except through swearing), our young heroine Mattie Ross does come from a God-fearing family.  Mattie is not after personal revenge per se, something the Lord commands us not to seek.  But she is after justice which is a major attribute of God.  After local officials refuse to take correct measures, Maddie pursues her case with a local bounty hunter.  She wisely chooses a man she believes will not be soft on the matter of holding a wrongdoer accountable… Rooster Cogburn.  He isn’t an easy character to deal with, but Mattie is not faint of heart.

It’s a good thing she isn’t timid because there are plenty of gorey scenes that aren’t so pretty.   This isn’t exactly a family-friendly flick, and also contains some amount of swearing.

But overall, I was glad to be able to watch this movie at last and counted it as a positive experience.  I would encourage fans of both the book and the previous film version to give this a try.  No, Bridges isn’t John Wayne, but I believe he made the character all his own.  I especially got a kick out of Matt Damon’s egotistical Mr. LaBoeuf.

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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Movie Reviews


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Movie Review: The Book Thief

d326e3e8deb69479ae2a56a451ab07e8Based on the book by Markus Zusak.

Version: 2013; starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

Genre: drama, WWII

Plot Summary: Liesel Meminger has been orphaned by the circumstances of WWII and adopted by a new set of parents in a different town.  She is also new at school and ashamed to admit she cannot read.  But Papa helps to educate her as he learns to improve his schooling as well.  Meanwhile, there are other things to be learned while living in Germany during the time of the Third Reich.

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 film that had my interest from the first, but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until a little while ago. The trailer looked so intriguing, and I guess I get my interest in WWII history from my mom.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it included the actor Geoffrey Rush in a major role.  His voice is one of my favorites (he played the voice of Nigel the Pelican on Finding Nemo).

The Book Thief was interesting in that it followed the story of a German civilian (Liesel) throughout the duration of the WWII.  Because of the perspective, it sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, another film I would recommend.  Liesel is involved with the Hitler Youth and other activities just like many other young people her age.  Her adoptive parents aren’t too particularly anti-Hitler, but aren’t entirely for him, either.  However, they go with the flow as many do and keep the peace.

That is, until a young Jewish man enters their home and they are compelled to hide him in their basement. Liesel doesn’t completely understand what is going on, only that Max is her friend and she wants to protect him.

1ea864bc74e07178ed875aaca980711bI really did enjoy this movie, but I get a sense that the book was probably better. There were parts (mostly at the beginning) that I didn’t understand.  Why was Liesel’s mother taken away?  What exactly happened to her brother?  What was the burgermeister’s reasons for banning Liesel?  What’s the deal with the abstract narrator called Death?  Although the story was called “The Book Thief”, that really wasn’t so much of the plot.  It was hard to suspend disbelief when several years go by, yet Liesel and her girlhood crush Rudy don’t appear to get any older.  But I did get a kick out of the Christmas scene in the basement, where the family smuggles in snow, has a snowball fight and builds a snowman.  “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Rosa states.  😀  I also really liked the scene where Liesel enjoys a good book at the burgermeister’s library.  The colors, mood, and design are something I would like to replicate someday for my own personal library.

Another thing I appreciated is that the end of the story takes a different twist that I did not expect, as real life sometimes does. It was sad, but not altogether so.  There is not really ‘content’ issues.  This film is based on a YA book and I was glad to see it kept age appropriate.  But there is what you would expect in a story that takes place during such a time as 1940’s Germany, and there are beatings, bombings, etc.

I would recommend this, but parents will probably want to watch it with their kids and decide what age it’s appropriate for.

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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Movie Reviews


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Interview w/ Aaron Fullan

music-1970040_960_720Greetings all!  Are you fan of Heirloom Audio Productions’ G. A. Henty audio dramas?  I confess I have yet the privilege of getting my hands on them, but I can’t wait until I do; they look like great quality stuff.  I came across this on Facebook this evening and wanted to pass it along to anyone else interested.  HAP’s Associate Producer Aaron Fullan will be on Facebook Live on Feb. 24 at 10:30am (CST) answering viewer’s/listener’s questions.  You can find out more here.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately.  I hope to get more free time soon!


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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Quote for Nov. 13, 2016


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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Quotes


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Book Review: Kilmeny of the Orchard, by L. M. Montgomery

“She looked like a very incarnation of Spring– as if all the shimmer of young leaves and glow of young mornings and evanescent sweetness of young blossoms in a thousand springs had been embodied in her.”

Genre: classic; drama; romance

Plot Summary: When Eric Marshall agrees to fill in as a substitute schoolteacher in a small farming community on Prince Edward Island, he doesn’t know it will change his life forever.  One evening, while walking through an abandoned orchard, he hears the unearthly music of a talented violinist.  The beauty of the silent girl captivates him, but Kilmeny has been kept hidden away from society because of a dark secret from her past.  Can Eric convince her guardians to allow him to court her?

My Book Review:  It’s been a few years since I’ve read my last L. M. Montgomery novel, and felt like pulling this off my shelf this spring while waiting for my next library book.  It wasn’t long and took less than a week for me to read (I suspect others would easily finish it inside of a day).

This is a typical Montgomery novel—dripping with apple blossoms and roses on nearly every page.  I think L. M. M. is the only author to get away with this!  The story itself is not extraordinary, and I found it predictable and overly dramatic at times.  However, it was a sweet story and I enjoyed it for all that!  I don’t mind reading of heavenly places full of flowers, star-like heroines, and courtship amid the blossoms once in a while!  Sure, I think it unrealistic that anybody could be quite as beautiful as the heroine (and I think it was just the description coming from a biased lover!), but it doesn’t hurt to sometimes have a heroine who is all things gracious and lovely.  I’d take Kilmeny over Kardashian anyday.  I think it would improve the world for young ladies to aspire more toward feminine elegance than the latest pop celebrity.

I honestly think I would have enjoyed this more when I was younger (teens), though I could probably say I appreciated some themes in it more now that I am a little older.  Kilmeny’s sweet innocence in the beginning; Eric, who cherishes her as a valuable person and therefore seeks the blessing of her aunt and uncle even if things could have gotten complicated; Kilmeny’s slow blossoming to life, love, and awareness of herself.  I thought the ending lovely in that Eric considers Kilmeny his greatest glory in life.  Even though he doesn’t want to wait long for them to be married, Kilmeny is wise in knowing she needs time to prepare for their life together.

If you’re wanting a nice, light spring read, this will surely send you into dreamy ecstasy!  You can listen to the audiobook for free here.

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Posted by on May 16, 2015 in Book Reviews


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Movie Review: The Giver

58957b6026792b15f0d80659f300c549Based on the book by Lois Lowry.

Version: 2014; starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes

Genre: dystopian; sci-fi; drama; young adult

Plot Summary: Jonas grows up in a community that knows no pain or sorrow… or color or music or emotion. When Jonas is selected to be the next “Giver” in his community, he apprentices with an older man who teaches him the memory of what their community has banned. What Jonas decides to do with his newfound knowledge could change everything.

My Review: I had heard The Giver was a great young adult fiction novel, and had wanted to read it for a while. I checked the book out of the library intending to read it but ironically before I could, my mom and I decided to watch it one afternoon when it was in theaters last year. I knew the genre was somewhat dystopian in nature, but other than that I had no idea what it was about.

This was a very good movie. I still haven’t read the book (decided to give it a wait after all), so I don’t know how it compares. But the film version was very thought provoking without including objectionable content to worry about.

There are some heavy subjects within this story. It makes for good discussion after one has seen it.  It includes themes like euthanasia, totalitarianism, free choice, and abortion. There were two things that particularly stood out to me. One was that it was a nice for a change to see a teenage boy showing interest in and nurturing an infant. It struck me how rarely we ever see that, especially depicted in movies. SPOILER: The second was an observation Jonas makes about the fact that ‘releasing babies [which did not meet with development standards] to Elsewhere’  was still murder, just called by a different name. I turned to my mom and said, “They had the gall to put this in a movie?”  I applaud them for this message.  END OF SPOILER. In a teen movie, to boot! It was not labeled a ‘Christian’ movie, yet I have to wonder if it will have more positive impact on culture than a lot of other recent inspirational films.

By all means, make sure you see this (but preferably read the book first!) as it is a well-made story that I heartily recommend.


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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Movie Reviews


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Midday Book Club: “The Giver”


Heads up about the latest Midday Connection Book Club today @ 12:00 CT (listen live online here or listen to program in retrospect, free for up to a year here).  Today Prof. Rosalie de Rosset will be discussing the young adult novel, “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry.  I saw this movie in the theater this fall and loved it, and hope to read the book at a later time.  I can’t wait to hear it discussed!

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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Midday Connection Book Club


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