Saturday, January 31, 2015

Paper Hearts - A Valentine's Day book trailer!

So, the book I'm reading right now is called Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh published by Tyndale House. I'm only a little ways in, but I can already tell it's a very cute story of a girl who I empathize with in a few levels because 1) I'm unattached also and 2) sometimes it feels like talking to men is like talking to martians.There are moments of social awkwardness in my life so I'm glad Ms. Walsh chose to develop Abigail from a perspective of which I am very familiar.

Give the video a look-see and keep an eye out for my review in a week or so!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."

This tag is going around and I was tagged for it over on Sidewalk Crossings by DKoren.

1. You Must Be Tagged to take the Q and A quiz
2. You must tag (notify) at least three other bloggers (or whatever they are on) for this Q and A
3. You must answer the following questions to the best of your ability
4. You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies to be tagged/take the quiz
WARNING!  There's going to be spoilage!!!

1. Tell your story of how you came to see the movie(s) or got into Tolkien in the first place.

My introduction to Tolkien was The Hobbit, not the book, but the cute animated film by Rankin Bass from the 1970s. Anyone remember it? I was probably 10 at the time, maybe a little younger, and I just loved it. So imaginative and clever. I read the book for the first time when I was 14, just after I moved to Colorado and was feeling lonely. It took my mind off the upheaval of moving and leaving all my friends behind, kind of like Bilbo leaving his comfortable life for a new adventure. So I became a true fan at the age of 14 and never looked back.

2. Who are your three favorite characters in The Hobbit Trilogy?

Bilbo, Gandalf, and Smaug.

I always have been, always will be a hobbit fan. As you now know, I've loved the story from the time I was a little munchkin and Bilbo was a big reason for my loving it. I think Martin Freeman gave a spot-on performance and the only thing I would change is giving him more screen time.  

Gandalf is amazing. It doesn't matter what movie he's in or what form he takes, he's incredible. But Gandalf the Grey has always been my favorite and so to have three more movies with my favorite incarnation of Gandalf was delightful!

As for Smaug, dragons are cool. All right, he's a bit on the nasty, murderous side, but he is a dragon, after all. The saddest part for me in the entirety of the last film is Smaug's death. When his light goes out and his eyes die, I just wanted to cry, I felt so bad. The last dragon in Middle Earth dies in such a way. I can't excuse his behavior, but I grieved for him just the same.

Honorable mentions are: Thranduil, Elrond, and Legolas

3. Did you cry during The Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scene(s) and what type (sniffling, sobbing, choke-crying)?

No, I did not cry. I felt a little bad for Bilbo's emotional upheaval, a bit of transference going on from him to me, but not enough to awaken even a smallish tear. The closest I came was Smaug's death and Bilbo's reaction to Thorin's death.

4. Were the deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?

The one death that was compelling, as you already know, was Smaug's, see above. I don't like seeing the last of anything die, let alone something as magnificent as a dragon. 

I also felt a little bad for Thranduil's elk. He was pretty awesome and again, such a unique creature shouldn't die.

I'll be honest, I'm shocked at how little the deaths moved me. Maybe a second viewing would help. After all, I blubbered my way through The Lord of the Rings without any problem or restraint. Haldir died and I was a mess!

5. Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?

Nope, not at all. Too many changes to the original story, too much bloating, too much Kiliel, and I would give anything for the people of Laketown to feel like they lived in Middle Earth instead of wandering out of a Dickens' novel. Really. You know it's bad when your favorite moments are the first 20 minutes before the title even rolls.

The rest of it, the Laketown people especially, just felt like a rehashing of characters already done. Like Alfred. Did we need another Grima? A Grima that I actually hated worse than Grima and had the gall to live through the trilogy? And what's up with everyone trusting him? Alfred, watch my kids. Alfred, look about Bilbo. Alfred, do this, and Alfred, do that. Nope, he'd have been out on his ear in a second. It's not like people didn't know what he was like, a treacherous little leech!

I also cannot believe that Legolas has now been degraded to the loser in a love triangle. Excuse me? How the heck did that happen? And now he goes off to join the Dunadain (wait, what?) to get over his attachment to Tauriel? Nope.

Overall, I disliked how much time was given over to unimportant side plots and characters that Tolkien didn't create.

 6. Describe the movie in one word.


I wanted less, far, far less than what PJ gave us, yet at the same time, so much more than he gave us. Does that make sense? I wanted The Hobbit and he wrote his own story. I never considered myself a true purist until this moment, but I guess I am, at least where this story is concerned. I can even handle RDJ's Sherlock Holmes movies that pretty much butcher the character of Holmes, but I experienced no enjoyment with this final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. I just wish PJ had been able to let it stand on its own, be its own story, instead of trying to recreate the epic that he already made with The Lord of the Rings

I know that I am in the minority so all I can do is apologize to all of you who loved this movie. I'm sorry and I wish I saw in it what you did. Believe me, I do wish it.  

Consider anyone who wants to do this tag . . . tagged. :) 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell (5 stars, 2015)

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1852, England. Charlotte Withersby cannot believe her ears. Is it possible that her uncle really intends for her to join society? To find a husband, settle down, and give up her beloved study of botany? It seems too cruel to be true except that her father also agrees with him, to the point that he has hired a young man to take her place at his side. Having lost her mother at an early age and also been cloistered away from society for so many years, Charlotte lacks tact and societal graces. However, she is still able to attract two men of the village in which she lives. Except that Charlotte's motivations are actually governed by choosing men she hopes will not be pleasing to her father and that he will take her back as his assistant and caretaker. She cannot bear to let Edward Trimble, the young man now working at her father's side, change everything in their lives, and not even the encouraging words of her new friend, Miss Templeton, can entirely uplift her spirits. Everything she loves, everything she does that is of value, is in danger of being snatched from her, but Charlotte little realizes the true peril of playing with a man's heart to achieve some other purpose. Her road, for a little while, is set on a different path, one that will challenge her to branch out into new experiences and perhaps learn a little discernment along the way.

I love this book. I'm just going to state it, plain and simple, because I don't get to say it often enough! I'm fond of Siri Mitchell's writing in general, but had yet to read one of her books that I could rate as 5 stars, at least until this very moment. Like a Flower in Bloom is a success in every way. Charlotte is charming in her lack of societal graces, her lack of pretense and her blunt honesty. She is an ISTJ if ever there was one, on the Myers-Briggs scale of personality typing. And I think I found her most intriguing because I rarely ever read a female character with this type. Highly introverted, highly intellectual, and brutally honest. It doesn't matter to her whether something is done this way in society if that something is absurd and has little bearing on her life. Why don't people understand botany? How can they possibly consider an artistic rendering of a flower to be accurate when it is missing its stamens and pistils? She is refreshingly delightful in her blunt nature, and because Ms. Mitchell crafted her with also a generous heart, I came to adore Charlotte.

One of the things I admire most about Ms. Mitchell's books is her ability to change her writing voice. Not all authors manage this feat successfully, but her voice in this book is completely different from her voice in Love Comes Calling set in the 1920s, which is different from her voice in A Constant Heart set during the reign of Elizabeth I. She lends authenticity to each of her novels by this remarkable ability to change out her writing voice, but by far, my favorite of her voice's used to this point is the one she chose for Charlotte. I was there, walking with Charlotte through her journey, feeling her pain as she is being forced into a new life not of her choosing, but the ending was delightful. As with most romances, the reader knows how the book must end, but I felt like I was in a race to get there because even though I knew what would happen, I was desperate to see just how it would happen.

If there is a downside, which there really isn't, it's that I didn't get to know the hero very well, obviously Edward Trimble. Oh, you engage with him regularly, and his interaction with Charlotte is delightful, but he has some secrets that he's keeping and because of that, you don't know him. I didn't truly mind that about him, though, because he is quite likeable anyway. As are all the characters, from her uncle who dared to go into something other than botany to her eccentric father to the kindly Miss Templeton to the absurd young men who take an interest in Charlotte . . . the wealthy aristocrat with his collection of stumps and the widower parson possessed of 8 children. The characters, the plot, the setting, it was all pure delight. As was the history lesson of how an intelligent woman in the 1800s might find her scientific research purloined and published by a man instead. I had no idea that sexism was so terribly rampant. I suspected it had to be, but I had never read a book like this before that made the truth of sexism so perfectly clear. Also, yes, the book cover is lovely, but I confess that its inaccuracies to the era plague me. Still, it's quite pretty and I can overlook the flaws.

Finally, readers should know that Ms. Mitchell always writes in the 1st person, so if you struggle with that style of writing, as I used to struggle, bear that in mind. She does it the best of any author I have read so if you're branching out into 1st person, her work is a good place to start. I truly congratulate Ms. Mitchell on her quality work in her latest novel, a book I shall treasure for a long time to come and recommend to all lovers of historic fiction.

- I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews