Sunday, January 31, 2016

Period Film Challenge - Beyond the Mask (2015)

Written for the Period Drama Challenge hosted by Laurie over at Old-Fashioned Charm. ❤

Beyond the Mask (2015, PG, 105 minutes)
written by Paul McCusker and starring John Rhys Davies

Let's be perfectly honest. Christians movies get a bum rap. Sometimes it's a well-deserved razzing. Just because you have an idea for a Christian movie doesn't mean you're qualified to make it. Badly done Christian films are out there and I avoid them whenever possible. Which means I can tell the difference between a good Christian movie and a bad one.

Sometimes, though, Christian films are better than I ever anticipated. Such is the case with Beyond the Mask. This film's production budget was roughly $2 million dollars which is microscopically tiny when compared to all the superhero films being dished out today that somehow require at least $250 million in order to function. And yet Beyond the Mask manages to be a cohesive, enjoyable, family-friendly, not-overly-preachy Christian film that also fits itself into the genre of a period film. Sort of like Amazing Grace.

The razzing Beyond the Mask has received, the low ratings on IMDB by reviewers, etc. is unjustified. I actually had a much longer rant written here, but decided against posting it. Just know that if you watch this movie with an open mind then it will enchant you. Don't be close-minded.

And now on to the movie itself!

❤ The Plot ❤

The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds has just been double-crossed and now is on the run in the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he's never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer (John Rhys Davies). As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte - as well as Ben Franklin - while he races against time to defuse a plot of historical proportions. As Will Reynolds discovers, if we let true freedom ring, history can be redeemed! 

(Note, I borrowed this synopsis from the film website

❤ The Good Bits ❤

Because you know, every movie, Christian or not, has good bits and not so good bits. I fully acknowledge that fact, and so I'm happy to cover both.

Really, the best thing is how I never felt that this movie was low budget. The scenery was stunning as were the special effects. The soundtrack was nice and subtle, there, but not overpowering. Guiding the story in ways that evoked images of National Treasure or Pirates of the Caribbean. In good ways, mind you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Have you heard about Risen (2016) starring Joseph Fiennes?

Contrary to the poster itself, Risen releases in theaters, probably limited release, on February 18th, 2016.

Okay, so backstory.

I was in the theater last year with my Hearties group (When Calls the Heart fans) waiting for Captive to start. Btw, that's a movie you definitely need to see if you haven't already, but I'll post a full review for it at some point. Back on point, while waiting we were bombarded with trailers, some good, some not so good, and then there was RISEN.

Literal tears fell down my cheeks before I even realized that I was crying. That almost never happens!

The story is simple, but the implications are not so simple. You have a Roman Tribune who is set with the task to solve the mystery of Jesus' body's disappearance. This is the Resurrection story from the perspective of a non-believer. Oh MY GOSH. I have never seen anything like this or even really imagined that anyone would make such a movie!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Plus, and this is a big plus, we have BIG NAME ACTORS in Risen!

We're talking JOSEPH FIENNES, TOM FELTON, and PETER FIRTH. You know these actors. I know these actors. This movie promises to be one of the most impactful films that has been released in the last decade.

So, what do we need to do? Plan to see it if it's in a theater near you. Try it. Take a friend. Take your family. Make a note of the release date. I know where I'm going to be on Feb 18th, and even though I will undoubtedly be a sobbing mess by the end, it will have been worth it. Because this story needs to be told.

Go. And remember why He came.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Audiobook Review: Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (2014)

Lizzy & Jane
by Katherine Reay
2014, read by Hillary Huber

✯✯✯✯✯ (for the novel)
✯✯ (for the audiobook)


Two sisters, one nearly 10 years older than the other. In a fit of rebellion, Jane left home, leaving a void in her younger sister, Lizzy's life, a void that only widens when her mother dies of cancer. As soon as Elizabeth is of legal age, she's gone too, following her dreams to be a big-time chef in New York City. She has her restaurant, Feast, the potential for a romantic match the restaurant's financial backer, Paul. No need for family. But now her skills as a chef are slipping and she's losing the magic. Thinking a return home will stir the passion she once felt for food, Lizzy heads to Washington only to discover that her sister is now battling cancer, the same cancer that killed their mother. While Jane eventually came home and proved herself stable, the relationship between Jane and Lizzy is anything but. Except now Jane needs her and maybe this is a second chance to make their relationship work, just as their mother always hoped. After all, you don't name your daughters after the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice without a good reason.

The Novel

First, do not read Reay's books unless you love classic literature or you will be completely lost with all the literary references. These women eat, sleep, and breathe Jane Austen, although this one also references a lot of Hemingway. And don't read this book unless you're at least a little bit of a foodie since food references are on almost every single page. 

Despite the heroines being named after the Bennet sisters, Lizzy's favorite Austen novel is Persuasion which also happens to my personal favorite. So I appreciated her insight and love of the novel, especially her thoughts on how Anne being forced to wait might have been a blessing, hence the following quote.

Second, if you've ever known someone, either a friend or a family member, who battled cancer than this book will be an inspiration and encouragement to you. While I'm fortunate in the good health of my immediate family and friends, I also realize that the pain, confusion, hurt, and anger over that dreadful diagnosis of cancer is very real. And this book offers at least gentle semblance of healing and hope.

Life and family are sometimes messy. I cannot connect to the reality of Lizzy and Jane's relationship, their anger, the long history of bitterness and snipping at one another. I don't know how defensiveness can be the first reaction you have to your sister. But then, I've been blessed with a best friend in my younger sister. I love her, so very much, and so my heart breaks when I remember the sad reality that a lot of siblings don't have the same relationship that I have with my sibling.

This book is about closing relational rifts, especially in times of pain and suffering. It's about forging ahead to reconciliation, about being tentative and trusting and transparent with family. It's about giving of yourself when your first reaction for decades has always been self-preservation.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reay's first book, Dear Mr. Knightley. It was a very sweet read, cute, but whatever I felt lacked in that novel has been found in Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay has matured into the author she was meant to become, and I hope and pray that she accomplishes much more with her writing in the years to come. I just know this book has already touched and softened many lives and that it will touch many more. That's the magic of books that connect to Austen. People read them, and they should this book!

The Narrator

I won't go too much into this except to say that I am THANKFUL that I didn't let my opinion of this novel hinge on the narrator. I started out just listening to the audio book and it was just so . . . depressing. Bone deep depressing with a droning tenor to it that just grated on me.

My advice? Skip the audio book on this one. I listened to exactly 33% of the audio book before picking up the actual novel. The best decision I ever made and the absolute saving of the brilliant Lizzy & Jane.

Parental Guidance  

One of the things I like about Reay's work is that she doesn't necessarily preach to her readers. With that in mind, this is a little bit more of a clean read. I mean, Jane is honest with her sister that sex has no appeal right now because she feels shriveled and dry. Yes, it's a bit blunt and I was a bit shocked, but you know what? That's life! I'm comfortable with everything I read within the pages of Lizzy & Jane and there was nothing sexually questionable. Just some brutal honesty and a lot of family hurt that needed to be worked through.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Blogging About Blogs Tag

So, my dear friend Hamlette from Hamlette's Soliloquy started this fun little tag about blogs. And I love the idea, a way to praise and encourage your fellow bloggers, plus I made it to her list, for which I'm extremely touched.

Then, a newer blog I'm following, Heidi over at Along the Brandywine, tagged me, so that's 2 reasons for me to fill this out!

Thanks to both of you!

The Rules
Thank the person who tagged you
Answer the questions
Tag some blogging friends

Blog that makes me laugh
I'd say that the one that makes me laugh the most is probably Olivia's blog, Meanwhile, in Rivendell.

Blog that makes me think
Definitely Charity at History!Chick since she is always able to find deep meanings in whatever fandom she's currently interested in.

Blog that teaches me things
Ooh, I love Olivia's blog (a different Olivia) called Hopeful Honey. I love to crochet and she has such gorgeous patterns and tips on new stitches!

Blog with beautiful headers
Okay, so I'm pretty much assured that Natalie's blog, Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens will always have a lovely header.

Blogger who takes great pictures
Sadly, I don't follow a lot of blogs that take their own photos, so I'm going to tout Kirsty Mitchell's collection called Wonderland. The woman is gifted beyond belief. Photos range between G and PG13, all fantasy and fairy tale themed. GORGEOUS!

Blogger whose recommendations I trust
I definitely trust the book recommendations by Birdie at Lady of the Manor and Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice.

New blog I'm enjoying
I like literally JUST started following Jayne's blog, Adventures at Tiny Toadstool Cottage, but I love her reviews and thoughts already! I anticipate this will be the start of a long blogging friendship!

Blog I've followed the longest
I've been following Charity at History!Chick for as long as I've been blogging, even since before I was on blogger but on Livejournal.

Blog I've started following the most recently
I just started following Heidi at Along the Brandywine and am enjoying getting to know her interests and opinions.

And I'm going to tag just a few people:
Lady of the Manor
Adventures at Tiny Toadstool Cottage
Sidewalk Crossings

If anyone else wants to fill out the tag, you most certainly may!

For your convenience, here are the tag questions for you to copy:

Blog that makes me laugh
Blog that makes me think
Blog that teaches me things
Blog with beautiful headers
Blogger who takes great pictures
Blogger whose recommendations I trust
New blog I'm enjoying
Blog I've followed the longest
Blog I've started following the most recently

Friday, January 22, 2016

Period Drama Challenge - Oliver Twist (1997)

Written for the Period Drama Challenge hosted by Laurie over at Old-Fashioned Charm. ❤ 

Oliver Twist . . . The Disney Version
starring Richard Dreyfuss and Elijah Wood
1997, PG, 90 minutes

When I was a wee nipper my exposure to "period films" was limited to big production company releases that had been solidly Americanized and, how do you call it . . . abridged. But that's okay because I was just a kid myself. In 1997, I was only 13-years-old and I really didn't have all that much interest in period dramas that were hours and hours long. For one thing, I didn't have the patience for it. And for another, classics were boring. What can I say? I was 13.

I have since widened my classic literature and film horizons by leaps and bounds, mostly thanks to college courses with a strong focus on British lit. And although I have yet to actually read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, I have watched many different film adaptations of the story that are far more comprehensive and, shall we say, dark than this one.

However, this Disney version of Oliver Twist will always be near and dear to my heart. Why?

Frodo Baggins is just around the bend!

Because I first saw Elijah Wood in Huckleberry Finn and Flipper and developed a solid and healthy crush on him from a young age. So to cast him as the Artful Dodger seemed brilliant to me at the time. Never mind that he wasn't British. Nor, come to think of it, is Richard Dreyfuss. But that did not seem to matter to 13-year-old me who simply thought Elijah Wood was the best thing since Luke Skywalker.

Re-watching it as an adult, and having not seen it for at least a decade, well, my views have changed somewhat. But I am still firmly convinced that this version if a great introductory version of Oliver Twist. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be intimidated by period dramas? If you have little to no experience with them, the last thing you're ready for is a foray into a complicated drama of thick accents and dark scenery.

Be kind to your friends and family who might be interested in dipping a toe in the enormous lake that is Dickens film adaptations. Show them this 1997 version of Oliver Twist. It takes a complex and long-winded story and whittles it comprehensively down to 90 minutes, palatable to even the most restless spirit.

Strong British accents are noticeably absent, with the lead actors doing an admirable job of faking them. Which I honestly don't mind, even though that probably makes me less of a purist. Hey, if the Brits can fake American accents and get away with it (BADLY, I might add), then we should be given a free pass to do the same. What goes around comes around, I always say.

As for the adaptation itself, I'm pretty sure a lot of the dialogue is not out of the book, but I couldn't say for sure since, like I said, I've never read it. But I seriously doubt that Dodger refers to prison as "That great institution of higher learning" just as I also know he was certainly not a teenager. That is another change I don't mind, simply because it's Elijah Wood and I'll take him when and where I can get him, which nowadays is few and far between.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Goodreads Tag!

I snatched this from Lois over at You, Me, and a Cup of Tea who I haven't been following for all that long, but do enjoy reading her posts.

Plus, it gives me an excuse to squeeee over the new banner my sister put together for this blog! She's awesome with graphics and I LOVE it!

Anyway, on to the tag itself, and I am an active Goodreads member so these are all up-to-date as of yesterday.

What is the last book you marked as "read"? On This Foundation by Lynn Austin. Which you can tell since my review is just prior to this latest post.

What are you "currently reading"? Three books are currently on the list, although I'm actively reading one, The Shock of Night, a fantasy by Patrick Carr that I'm really loving. The other 2 books are Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay and Once in a While by Linda Ellen.

What was the last book you marked as "to read"? Snow Day by Billy Coffey, but mostly because I intend to read all of his amazing books at some point and just added them all to my list last night.

What book do you plan on reading next? It needs to be Regina Jennings' At Love's Bidding because I'm reading it for the Bethany House Blogger program.

Do you use the star rating system? Oh yes, and I'm really honest about when I like a book or not. I don't mind giving a book 3 stars so long as I write a review that actually gives a reason for the rating.

Are you doing the 2016 reading challenge? Always. This year it's only 50 books because I have other stuff going on.

Do you have a wish list? Not really. When there's a book I really love, I'll just buy it. I don't often ask for books for gifts because I have that habit of buying them!

What book are you planning on buying next? Mm, no real plans at the moment. Maybe some of Camille Eide's books since I don't own any, they're all loaners.

What is your favorite quote?

Who are your favorite authors? I have plenty, but right now, CAMILLE EIDE is top of the list! I love that woman's work! Long-term favorite authors are Cornelia Funke, Tolkien, and Charity Bishop.

Are you a part of any Goodreads group? A couple of Christian fiction groups and a blogger book review group, as well as a Jane Austen group. I'm not entirely active, but sometimes I post.

What could Goodreads do better? Re-reads capability in the lists would be amazing! And their app could be improved to allow liking reviews from people that you're not friends with. Both of those things would be awesome.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Agent Carter 2-Hour Season Premier (2016)

Agent Peggy Carter is back in the 2nd super awesome season of her show! ❤ 

Any self-respecting Marvel superhero fan absolutely must know who Peggy Carter is . . . Captain America's girl from the 1940s who is now a top notch secret agent and will eventually be a member of Shield (errr, before it went bad that is). The 1st season of a mere 8 episodes was such a rousing success with Marvel fans that Peggy is back, and even better than ever!

Played by Haley Atwell, Peggy Carter is reunited with James D'Arcy's portrayal of Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark's faithful butler who now has a taste for subterfuge due to his excursions with Peggy in the 1st season. As for Howard (Dominic Cooper), he hasn't put in an appearance yet this season, but I'm expecting him at any turn. Howard is one of those characters you resent liking because he is suuuuuuuuuch a dreadful playboy! But I miss not having him.

❤  In Episodes 1 & 2 w/ SPOILERS

This seasons starts off with a bang where Peggy finally catches Dottie (Bridget Regan), that horrendous Russian assassin who escapes at the finale of the 1st season. My gosh, I loathe that woman, especially now that's dressed like Peggy! But a hefty bag of coins to the head does wonders and she's now in custody. With a mysterious pin that Peggy feels she should know and is important, but she's not sure how or why. I suspect she'll be a crucial player throughout the season considering she's credited with 15 total episodes for the series. Bleh. Oh well, I need someone other than Howard to grind my teeth at.

Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) was one of Peggy's sole supporters in Agent Carter's 1st season, although still a bit flawed in places, but I still like him. He's been stationed in Hollywood, CA to start up an office for SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) for about 6 months and then comes across a strange case of a woman's body being frozen in the middle of a lake . . . in California . . . in SUMMER. In other words, an impossibility and he needs help. And because Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) is now in charge of the New York branch and has too much power and doesn't think Peggy is capable of getting information out of Dottie, he sends Peggy to help Daniel. No, Jack hasn't really changed and I'm about as fond of him as I am a tub of tepid dishwater.

Peggy arrives in Hollywood to find Jarvis waiting for her, eager to assist as always. Howard has offered the use of his Hollywood abode to her while she's there, including the charming flamingo below that Howard has added to his menagerie and which Jarvis has nick-named the "THE DEVIL IN PINK."

Period Drama Challenge Film Choices!

I'm participating in a Period Drama Challenge hosted by Laurie over at Old-Fashioned Charm. ❤

This is a really good thing for me since I haven't been watching a lot of period dramas lately and I really do want to get back into the habit. I miss period dramas! They consumed so much of my interest for so long and somewhere along the way, with life and work and school, I just ran out of time and energy for them and that sucks. So I'm going to take this opportunity and run with it and maybe try a couple of new dramas along the way, but especially rediscover my favorites and share them with all of you!

Visit Laurie's blog at the above link if you have any interest in joining the challenge, all her guidelines are listed there.

I've chosen to be a Period Film Devotee which means I will watch and review a total of 10 period dramas or films between now and July 2nd of this year. And here's my list, although it could change!

I'll be adding review links to this list as I complete the films/dramas.

I've been intending to watch this film for months and only just got around to it. And because it fits into the period film challenge criteria, I figured I might just as well add it to my list!

This is the Oliver Twist of my childhood! Elijah Wood and Richard Dreyfuss, what's not to love?! Of course, I've never read the book so have no idea how accurate it is, but I don't care and love it anyway. It's been years since I've seen it so I wonder if my love of it will have dimmed or not!

So, Timothy Dalton is my Mr. Rochester. I also love Toby Stephens, but I suspect a lot of people will write for Toby's version so I'm deliberately going with Timothy's. He's such a delight!
I have never watched a film version of David Copperfield other than a cartoon where all of the characters were animals of one sort or another dressed in period clothing. I still love that version, but I figured it was time to graduate and I've heard great things about this version.

I do love other versions of Pride & Prejudice, many of them actually, but Greer and Larry were it for me for so long that I must share the love!
I watched this version of The Picture of Dorian Gray because I'm a Jeremy Brett fan (not quite rabid, but close), and discovered that this verison is superbly rendered. And all without being too . . . sensual. I deeply appreciate their restraint!

My Jamaica Inn experience is solely limited to the 1939 Hitchock version that I LOVE. I've never read the book or watched any other version, so I figured I should give this one a try.

No one should ever go without seeing this version of Lorna Doone. The movie is my heart's delight starring Aidan Gillen and Richard Coyle as the villain and the hero. It is pure brilliance and romance from start to finish. I must and will share it with all of you!

I'm a huge Holmes fan, but never got around to watching Arthur & George with my family like I'd planned. It's about Arthur Conan Doyle in case you hadn't guessed and I am curious to see how it stacks up with other Doyle-related programs I've watched.

Murder Rooms is another series about Doyle, only this time you throw in Dr. Joseph Bell, the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. It's brilliant, one of my absolute favorite series and my heart aches to think it only lasted 4 episodes. This will only cover the miniseries, not the pilot film.

It's been years since I've watched The Greatest Game Ever Played, but I love it still. It's the story of a monumentally astounding game of golf at the US Open in 1913 against nobody Frances Ouimet and renowned golfer Harry Varden. It's a truly incredible film about an incredible story!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lovin' Those Musicals! - The Music Man (2003)

I honestly thought that nothing could ever make me like The Music Man. I'm sure you know the musical I mean. Fast-talking conman rolls into small town, gets townsfolk to give up money they don't have for a Boys Band that he can't form because he doesn't even know how to read music, all while he attempts to romance the town's staid and tight-laced librarian. I did try about 12 years ago, I really did since so many people I knew loved the version from 1962 and I really had no interest to seek out another version to take its place. That 1962 version just . . . didn't work for me. The actors, the setting, the whole shebang really. And I really, really did not like Harold Hill. And I couldn't believe that Marian would fall for such an obvious player and con artist.

Then they made a version of The Music Man for tv back in 2003.

And Heidi from Along the Brandywine just mentioned it to me during her Cinderella blogathon a few weeks ago that was so much fun!

And I rented it from Amazon, fell head over heels in love, and my own personal copy is now on its way to me.

Life's a funny thing.

Thanks, Heidi!

One thing I've discovered is that musicals really don't like to be challenged by newer versions. But I've always been prone to liking musical remakes since they generally breathe a bit of new life into the story. Like my loving the 1962 version of State Fair with Bobby Darin, Pamela Tiffin, Pat Boone, and Ann-Margret over the 1945 version with, well, I'm not sure who's in that version. Or Hugh Jackman's version of Oklahoma! over the one from 1955 that I simply couldn't stand. Oh, except for the new Annie. You can't remake perfection. So, yes, overall I have a penchant for musical remakes. You simply replace the original cast of The Music Man with Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth, and Victor Garber and I'm instantly in love! Which kind of makes me 1 of exactly 26 people in the entire world who loves the 2003 version over the 1962. Which is kind of sad, but I guess to be expected.

Why do I love the 2003 version? Two words . . . MATTHEW BRODERICK. Yes, I love Kristin too, but from the very first time I saw Broderick as Cinderella's prince over 20 years ago, I loved him. From what I understand about people's reticence to like this version, he downplays the role of Harold Hill. Okay, so, I kind of like con artists. I couldn't enjoy the tv shows Leverage or The Mentalist if I didn't, but they play it more subtle, and let's be honest, Patrick Jane in The Mentalist got out of the business and the characters in Leverage are out to take down the bad guys. So I like con artists to a point, if I have a reason to like them, which the original cast of The Music Man never gave me. He was obnoxious and loud and I never got the feeling that he cared about anyone. People say that the original was "masculine." Well, if that's masculine than please give me a softy any day because at least then I can see why Marian might choose him. At least Broderick plays Hill with some sympathy, like he's trying to make a difference and give people a little hope and enthusiasm, even while he's planning to rip them off. It's a weird, complicated characterization to watch but Broderick pulls it off without a hitch and a lot of people's lives are improved for having known him. I could buy him turning good in the end because I saw the good in him too. Plus, I'm a Broderick fan, in case you missed that fact. He makes everything better.

Book Review: On This Foundation (Restoration Chronicles #3) by Lynn Austin

On This Foundation (The Restoration Chronicles #3)
by Lynn Austin


It is twenty some years since the 13th of Adar occurred and Esther saved her people and the Jews fought back against their attackers. Nehemiah's parents were murdered in that attack, and he now serves as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia, meaning that he is a most trusted servant who tastes anything and everything the king will eat or drink. When Nehemiah learns that the walls of Jerusalem, the holy city of his people, lie in ruins with no one attempting to rebuild them, he garners permission from the king to travel roughly 1,000 miles to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls, fortifying the city against attacks by her enemies. This is the story we know, the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, facing opposition from local Gentile leaders, and guiding the people back to God.

The fictional side of On This Foundation is found in the 2 other sets of characters, Chana and her family and future husband and then Nava and her family and life as a bondservant. Chana is cleverly created out of a single verse in the book of Nehemiah, chapter 3 verse 12 that speaks of Shallum, an official over half of Jersualem, rebuilding his part of the wall with his daughters. Chana is one of Shallum's daughters in this story, a grieving young woman whose future husband was murdered by attackers creeping into the undefended Jerusalem. The wall means a great deal to her, as does working on it herself, doing something physical to right a very personal wrong. In the course of the story, she is courted by Malchijah, a powerful nobleman who is also listed in Scripture as having played a part in rebuilding the wall. Despite her doubts, Chana discovers that Malchijah is a good man, albeit weak in some areas, and she can strengthen and encourage him to make right choices according to the Law and God's will.

Nava, the young bondservant to Malchijah, fights bitterness and anger against the injustice that she must serve as bondservant to her master when he could forgive her family's debts and free her as Nehemiah asked of the wealthy Jews also according to Scripture. In love with a young farmer named Dan, Nava fears her master's son who is determined to catch her alone so he can take advantage of her. Bitterness eats her up inside and she must reconcile herself to God more to provide balm to her own wounded soul than for anyone else.

My Thoughts
I nearly rated this book 3 stars, but in good conscience I couldn't do it. A lot of effort goes into creating biblical fiction, and I liked almost all of the characters that Lynn Austin created. I think she took a little to much liberty with Nehemiah himself, heaping doubts and fears and emotions on him that I don't see in Scripture, but this is fiction and a little alteration is to be expected.
I started out disliking Chana, but ended up admiring her fortitude and how she matured from a stubborn, self-pitying woman to a strong woman of faith. Her marriage with Malchijah is entirely fictional, but I appreciated the reality of it being a second match for both of them, and even though the igniting passion we expect to see in romance is absent, they still grow to love each other. Theirs was a practical match, but just because it is a practical match doesn't mean there can't be love. I appreciated Ms. Austin's acknowledgement that love isn't always about feelings.
As for Nava, I pitied her from the beginning, but as her rage developed, I found myself frustrated with her for the same weaknesses that I myself can exhibit when things don't go my way. God uses our circumstances to grow us, no matter what they might be, and bitterness only serves to destroy us if we let it take root. Thankfully, Nava realizes that she must have faith and return to trusting in God, praying for her enemies and for peace for herself. And God rewards her faithfulness.
However, it's incredible to me how the same issue I had with the 1st book in the series, Keepers of the Covenant is still prevalent in the final book in the series. I appreciate Ms. Austin's dedication to scriptural references. I actually re-read the book of Nehemiah before writing this review, and she's pretty much spot on with historic details and names and events and all that stuff that is so easy to get wrong. But the contemporary dialogue she uses is still off-putting. This is historic fiction, and not just historic fiction but biblical fiction. I don't think they would have used words like "boyfriend." It just doesn't fit, and I'm disappointed in the novel's lack of historic dialogue.
In that same vein, the writing style wavers between being really strong and very weak. Moments of conflict fizzle out because the writing just isn't on par with the events happening. Conversations lack passion and authenticity, as if no one had ever bothered to read them aloud to see if they even sounded real. I found myself getting distracted as I read and counting down the pages in the hopes I was nearing the end just so I could finish it. I always hate it when that happens.

So, what could have been a 5 star book really ends up being somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me. For fans of biblical fiction, the series is most likely worth a read. It has some really good points and lessons learned. However, I think biblical fiction is not necessarily for me, and so this may be the last one I read for a good long while, just out of fairness to the authors.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Review: Grave Consequences by Lisa Tawn Bergren

 Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series #2)
by Lisa Tawn Bergren

❤ Synopsis

Grave Consequences is the 2nd book in the Grand Tour series that began with Glamorous Illusions. Cora, Will, Pierre, and all of Cora's siblings and their friends continue on their journey across the continent, now moving into France, Rome, Germany, and Italy. Cora's tender emotions continue to be torn in two, conflicted between the attentions of Will, their young "bear" (tour guide), and those of Pierre de Richelieu, one of the noblemen of France. The farther they travel, the more confused she becomes, all while surrounded by such art and architecture and people as she would have never, ever imagined meeting until she was claimed by Wallace Kensington, a copper king of Montana, as his daughter.

❤ My Thoughts

Let's begin with the positive. The first 1/3 of the novel is fun and delightful. The travelers stay with Pierre's sister and her husband in Provence in their fine mansion that was once a prison, perched above the Rhone river. The entire visit spent with Celine and Adrien is magical, almost too good to be true. Every morning the young gentlemen awaken, slip on their bathing costumes, and take a leap from the house into the river below that right past the magnificent mansion. The imagery was so vivid that I effortlessly pictured the scenes spent in Provence.

Unfortunately, the magic was not to last. Cora's emotional upheaval really ended up detracting from this second novel. I understand that she comes from a simple background. Her parents were farmers, they never had much in the way of financial security, etc. I get that. What I don't understand is her foolhardy belief that Wallace Kensington would simply allow her to return to her previous life after bringing her out of it. Why would she even want to?

With Pierre at her side, Cora has an opportunity to achieve so much good that goes far beyond attending school and becoming a schoolmarm. A lot of people hold with the idea that you must follow your heart wherever it might lead you, even if it means you're going to fall in love with a penniless tour guide like William McCabe, who you know your father doesn't approve of, and if he finds our you're seeing him on the sly, he'll summarily dismiss him. Love is about more than mere feelings. It has to be a joining of head and heart and all I see Cora doing is following her heart, head be damned.
I don't approve of that philosophy of "falling in love." Pierre is a good man who Cora is also attracted to. He's wealthy, compassionate, generous, and he adores her. Cora is not some fling for Pierre, unless something happens in the final book to mar his reputation by having him make choices outside of his established character. With him at her side, she could fund schools, and charities, and make so much difference in the world, accomplish so much good. But no, she's determined to spurn his advances, all because she has "fallen in love" with Will. A decision I don't understand because all I see in Will in this book is a careless, fanciful dreamer who knows that being with Cora is against his contract with her father. The man knows this romance is against the rules! But he just can't help himself. It's ridiculous.

Cora's resentment of her father and his maneuverings, her apparently intense dislike of wealth, all left me with the sour impression of her as a selfish little brat who throws these opportunities back in her father's face with her ungratefulness. She's even being ungrateful to God, wanting to go her own way instead of waiting on Him and examining the possibilities that her new life among the wealthier set might hold. But no, she must go her own way, make her own choices, even it means alienating herself from her new family and destroying Will's career. I don't see her father, Wallace Kensington, as the monster that Cora sees. Then again, I also tend to appreciate rather than resent the societal norms of varying historical eras, accepting them instead of ranting against them the way Cora rants. She rebels for rebellions' sake, and for someone like me who attempts to take her family's wishes into account when making decisions, well, it makes liking Cora all that much harder. I know my own identity and I don't have to be willful or disrespectful to be myself.

I'm afraid that Ms. Bergren lost me a bit with this 2nd novel. I so thoroughly enjoyed Glamorous Illusions that I'm very disappointed Grave Consequences did not live up to my expectations. The writing is as excellent as ever, but the plot wanders in circles, retracing old steps, and is wound up in unnecessary emotional drama. Because this series is historic romance rather than a historical, I already know that Cora must end up with Will. It's the way of the genre. This love triangle was merely penned to lend some drama to the story, but all it does for me is drag the story down. Cora never had a choice. The genre already decided for her that it would be Will and so it is the author's job to get her there, leaving poor Pierre, who I like so much more than Will, in the dust.

Add to that the suspense of having men trying to kidnap the female Kensingtons at every turn, when I already knew a 100 pages before "the big reveal" who was at fault, well, it was a bit of a downer. Surely someone in the novel had to have been at least as astute at reading people as I am, but no. Instead they were all caught by surprise and I was left rolling my eyes at their naivete. The tells were all there, people! It was obvious!

Here's hoping the 3rd book will redeem the series. But I may take a break between books 2 and 3 in the hopes that I'll be more accepting of the inevitable finale. Who knows, maybe the author will surprise me. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Audiobook Review: Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell (2014)

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell
2014, read by Morgan Hallett

My job gives me between 7 and 8 hours a day on the computer so I need SOMETHING to distract my brain, and audiobooks are perfect for that. Yes, I'm one of those people who can perform data entry while listening to an audiobook or a radio drama. The Lord has blessed me so much, and I'm incredibly grateful!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start reviewing the audiobooks I listen to, how well I liked the book itself, but especially who well I like the reader since the reader makes or breaks a story.


Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell is a simple and fun story, set in the 1920s, right smackdab in the middle of the flapper era. The heroine Ellis Eton is a young coed who tries and tries and tries her hardest to focus and do things right, just as is expected of her by her uppercrust family, but her mind wanders, she gets distracted, and before she realizes it, she's flubbed another test, or forgotten about a meeting, or misplaced directions. Literally, she's a mess. But she has a good heart, so when the daughter of her family's former housekeeper needs to take a trip for 2 weeks to bury her mother in her hometown, Ellis agrees to take her place at her job as a switchboard operator, or a "Hello Girl" as they're called. Ellis and Janie looked so much alike as children that they actually switched places for a day, so Ellis knows the scheme will work, especially since her fondest dream is to be a Hollywood actress and she knows she can pull off the switch. Except that being a switchboard operator is harder than she ever dreamed, and when she overhears something she shouldn't by not flipping a switch on her board, well, she suddenly suspects that someone is out to harm one of her oldest friends, Griff Phillips. As the heir to a substantial fortune himself, along with being an excellent college football player, Griff is near and dear to her heart, although Ellis doesn't realize how near and dear until she starts sticking to him like glue. Throw in a few speakeasys, uppercrust parties, and time at the lake, and you've got quite an adventure on your hands with Love Comes Calling!

The Novel

First of all, one of the things I love most about this book is the heroine. Siri herself admits to creating a heroine with ADHD before it was even diagnosed, and boy is she right! Ellis is at the height of ADHD so it's fascinating to be in her head where tries so hard and struggles to please her family and to remember and to do what needs to be done, but she just can't quite manage it. In that same vein, though, I'm sure a lot of readers will find themselves frustrated with Ellis' lack of concentration, which is why I'm mentioning her diagnosis right now so you know what you're getting into before you even pick up the book or audiobook.

My second favorite thing is how the Roaring Twenties is represented. Modern Americans have this glamorous vision of the 1920s lifestyles, the glitz, the fame, the parties, etc. But it wasn't all glamour. A  lot of it was sordid and vile and shameful, and this is the side Siri Mitchell represents so well that most other authors or films skip altogether. Fun and fabulous parties like the ones in The Great Gatsby are all well and good, but in Love Comes Calling, they're shown for being the life-draining, morality destroying binges that they are. And I love that honesty.

Griff is also pretty awesome because he's the one character that doesn't say "Ohhhhh, Ellis" whenever she does something wrong. He admires her spunk and fortitude and he's deeply in love with her. He also stands firm on his convictions and he won't bend to unlawful peer pressure. I was rooting for them from the beginning.

The Narrator

Narrators make or break the story that they're presenting. There is nothing worse than a narrator that drones on without changing tempo. I lose place in the story so easily with a narrator like that.

Thankfully, Morgan Hallett is a SUPERB narrator!

She has all of Ellis' mannerisms down perfectly, the inflections of each character, and the dramatic pitch needed for varying scenes. She engages the listener actively and I didn't want to go home from work one day because I didn't want to leave my story in the middle! You should hear her say "Oysters and clambakes!" just like I imagined Ellis to sound. Plus, she skillfully maneuvers the male voices, never an easy accomplishment for female narrators. But Morgan Hallett manages it flawlessly.

I've listened to dozens of audiobooks so far, and while I already knew I loved Love Comes Calling because I've physically read it, I love it even more now that I've heard it narrated with such skill and finesse!

Parental Guidance

This book isn't for the faint of heart. While I've made it sound fun, there is a lot of drinking and carousing, always with negative consequences. One of Ellis' friends dies because she drank bad alcohol in a speakeasy. There's also a police officer who, while not wholly bad, isn't wholly good either, and he steps aside and lets bad things happen instead of helping. There's no swearing of course, and only some mild kissing. Overall, all of the negative actions have consequences, just like in real life, and Siri Mitchell presents the light of Christ shining in the darkest of places.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Magical Cinderella Story - Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren (2012)

Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour Series #1)
by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Written for Cinderella Week hosted by Heidi at Along the Brandywine. ❤

I grew up reading Lisa Tawn Bergren's work, lots of her contemporary romances passed through my hands when I was a teenager, but I honestly haven't picked up one of her books in years. This one I just happened to stumble over this last week, one I'd planned to read for awhile, but never got around to. Kindle had a deal, I bought Glamorous Illusions, and then proceeded to read it in about 2 days. I just enjoyed it and myself so much. This book is a transporting and diverting read and I loved losing myself for at least a couple of days. And to my surprise, I found out about 3/4 of the way through, that it's actually a little bit of a Cinderella story! Who knew!?

Just for a brief write-up on the plot, Cora Diehl, a young woman living on a small farm in Montana in 1913, discovers that she's actually the illegitimate half-daughter of insanely wealthy Wallace Kensington, a copper king. Just now introducing himself, Mr. Kensington is giving Cora an opportunity to try his lifestyle on for size, which includes meeting his 3 legitimate children, and even taking the Grand Tour of Europe with them. It will be an uphill battle, she didn't realize how much uphill, but Cora finds herself up to the challenge as a love of art and history and travel is awakened within her, as well as a deepening understanding of herself as a young woman in the early 1900s, of suffrage, and of her place as a believer in Jesus.

There we go, simply stated, but also downplayed because the book takes many twists and turns. Cora discovers that her siblings aren't as easy to get to know as she might have hoped, especially Vivian, she spurns unwanted attentions from the son of another family traveling with them, develops an attraction to the "bear" in-training (a glorified tour guide), William McCabe, and constantly wars within herself over her happy, humble beginnings versus the new world opening up before her. Which could involve being courted and wooed by a French aristocrat, Pierre de Richelieu.

And this leads me to the connection with Cinderella.

Of course, you already see it, a little bit. A rags to riches story of a young woman, except that the family she already had was loving and kind, while the one she's breaking into has its own sort of selfishness and vanity, but apart from that, the tales are very similar. Oh, and God sort of plays the fairy godmother, since He orchestrated a lot of what happens by simply being who He is. I love that part.
But it is the ball that Pierre hosts while they're under his care in Paris, where he owns a massive chateau that is absolutely stunning (at least the way I imagine it). The ball was already pre-planned, so he didn't do it just for the Kensingtons and their party, but it is so magical and it is a masked masquerade ball, with everyone dressed in Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette inspired garb, even Cora in a radiant blue gown and powdered wig. I could just picture the costumes in my head, which is why I'm sharing some paintings I found online that could be a good match for her gown.

I love this one, and it does have the slight decollete neckline that made Cora nervous and it has the lace at the elbows which she just loved. So it isn't hard for me to picture her in it.

And this is, well, Marie Antoinette. Oh my, isn't that gown stunning? Not that I would ever, in a million years, wear a neckline that low, but I love the fabric and lace and the bobbles and just everything. Stunning!

Another of Marie Antoinette, except that I don't think it's a ball gown since she's outside, but it's still such a lovely blue and has that touch of lace at the elbow. Love that hat and the feathers!

Those are all the paintings I found that came close to my vision of Cora in her masquerade costume.

Really, the entire part of Glamorous Illusions that happens at the ball is just stunning. Pierra, as the host, chooses Cora for the first dance, and then she wheels away for fresh air in the garden since she doesn't know what to do with the emotions he invokes in her. Afterwards while still in their costumes, he puts a scarf over his eyes and trails her through an outdoor hedge maze (a game she agreed to play) tracking her. If he finds her, she must surrender a kiss. If she evades him and escapes the maze before he catches her, he will row her across a lake, gifting her an hour of much-needed silence. Of course, he wins and she shares her first truly impassioned kiss, but being the gentleman he is, Pierre agrees to give her her boat ride as well. This is before she flees from Pierre, flustered by the kiss, and Will (the tour guide) thinks Pierre has sullied her honor and gives Pierre a mean right hook. Of course, there's always drama, and more than one love interest which is interesting because I truly like both men.

The masquerade sequence is magical, and Cora's half-sisters are frustrated by Pierre's attention to her, and even go so far as to make Cinderella references, with Vivian snarking "Was it not enough that she had to embarrass us all with her public proclamation to Lord de Richelieu (meaning telling him she was illegitimate) - now she envisions herself as Cinderella at the ball? Honestly, now she's disappeared again." To which an accompanying young man remarks, "Perhaps she's left behind a glass slipper." The little references to Cinderella made the evening perfect.

I honestly wasn't sure if I would enjoy Glamorous Illusions when I first started it, but by the end, I loved it, and since it's a continuous series about this single Grand Tour, I expected the book to take its time getting from one place to another, which it does. No hurry, no fuss, just plenty of scenery, costuming, flirting, and travel, all while Cora tries to find herself. I doubt that the prince our Cinderella kissed at the ball will be her true love, but that's okay. I still made for a magical evening!

I'm including this painting because I love, love, LOVE The Swing by Fragonard. It's one of my favorite paintings and even though she isn't in blue, I could see Cora in that costume, losing a shoe as she swings too high.

On one final note, lovers of Downton Abbey will undoubtedly adore this series. It's perfectly Edwardian most of the time, except for the Louis XVI masquerade ball which just adds to the allure and mystique of the novel! ❤

Make sure to check out all the other posts for Cinderella Week by clicking the picture below!

Faerie Tale Theatre's Cinderella (1985)

Written for Cinderella Week hosted by Heidi at Along the Brandywine. ❤

As a homeschooler with parents who weren't wholeheartedly involved in the Disney boycott thing in the 90s, I was solidly exposed to fantasy and fairy tales as a child. So of course I watched Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. Oh my, I look back on that series with so much fondness and love, but, out of all the episodes, only a few really stood out as my favorites, and one of them happens to be Cinderella.

If you've never watched it, then you've missed so much! Matthew Broderick, who I happen to ADORE, plays Prince Henry, making himself one of my favorites of the Cinderella princes. He was just so . . . ideal. Naive perhaps, and very young, not unlike Cinderella herself, and I liked that, knowing they would grow to maturity together.

Three things stand out for me when I think about Faerie Tale Theatre's Cinderella: the casting, the humor, and the costuming.

I, mean, how do you go wrong casting Matthew Broderick as the Prince and Jean Stapleton as the fairy godmother?! I sort of grew up with Jean Stapleton, watching her be a semi-regular character on the spy show Scarecrow and Mrs. King in the 80s, so watching her don sparkles and the most GORGEOUS of all ball gowns to play Cinderella's fairy godmother, well, it was a sure thing I'd love her. As for Broderick, you already know I love him, but I also know Eve Arden as the wicked stepmother, who was quite the renowned actress herself in the days of classic cinema. Jane Alden and Edie McClurg play the stepsisters, Bertha and Arlene, and the insanely eccentric James Noble, known mainly for The Love Boat, is cast as the king.

But I also mentioned humor, and this version of Cinderella is shock full of it. Whether it's Bertha saying to a male visiter, "Would you like something to drink, perhaps some ham?" or the King remarking to his son, "Have you ever talked to that chef, Jacque? He is a heck of a nice guy!" the dialogue just flows so well. I love how the fairy godmother , just as she's about to turn the pumpkin into a coach, pauses and proclaims, "Hold on, pumpkins aren't hollow are they? Don't they have all that stringy stuff inside of 'em?" To which Cinderella responds, "Yes, and seeds." And the fairy godmother says, "Seeds! You don't want gigantic seeds inside of your coach do you? No, I should say not, we'll have to dig 'em out!" Which they then proceed to do, divesting the pumpkin of its seeds and "stringy stuff." The fairy godmother is a great kidder, the king strikes me as a laid back lounge singer from the 1960s, and Prince Henry spends a great deal of his time dodging Cinderella's stepsisters at the balls.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Welcome back after the holidays! I hope you all had a lovely time spent with friends and family. You'll be happy to know, I hope, that my holidays were happy in spite of the emotional turmoil I was experiencing at the start. Thanks for any and all prayers you may have sent my way during December, they were greatly appreciated and very much felt.


Do you ever wake up to realize that you've had a void in your life for years only to find that it's been FINALLY filled? That's me and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I'm going to make a terrible confession to all of you. I don't like the prequels. I never have, never will. I tried to fool myself into tolerating them for a good many years, but, well, I might just as well admit my distaste for them. So my Star Wars life has been solely limited to the original trilogy for almost the entirety of my life. And it was chock FULL of unanswered questions. I mean, what happens after Vader dies and the new death star explodes and Luke is reunited with Leia and Han? I wanted, no, needed desperately to know more. True, I could have read some of the countless Star Wars novels that have been published over the years, but I never trusted them to be canon and it turns out that I was right. . . they're not canon. Big surprise there.

So I kept hoping and praying, impatiently I might add, that someday George Lucas would come to his senses and make movies about the story I wanted to know, what happened AFTER The Return of the Jedi. I'll admit, I didn't really hold out all that much hope he would do it justice if he ever decided to try sequels to his original trilogy, which is why when I heard he gave up the rights to the franchise and Disney took them, well, let's just say gleeful is a good word to describe my reaction. Because Disney doesn't just sit with a good idea, it runs with it. And I trusted that Disney would run with Star Wars before Mark Hamill got very much older. Because, let's be honest, Lucas was a fool to make prequels when his actors from the original trilogy were still young enough for him to make decent SEQUELS.

But, all Lucas bitterness aside, my dream was realized, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was born, and then came the mind-numbing panic that maybe I had built up my hopes for this movie too high. That NOTHING could be as good as the original trilogy and that I was setting myself up for stinging disappointment. NOT SO! 

The Force Awakens is hands-down my favorite movie of the last 5 years!

Book Review: The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

The Memoir of Johnny Devine
Camille Eide
Ashberry Lane Publishing

Official Synopsis

In 1953, desperation forces young war widow Eliza Saunderson to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now the notorious womanizer claims he’s been born again. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become—a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.

When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s Communist hit list, John and Eliza become entangled in an investigation that threatens both his book and her future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. Plus, she needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can forgive a sordid past. Just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy façade many Americans cling to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?

Go to my Historic Fiction page to find all my Christian historic fiction reviews!

My Take in 3 Parts

The Plot
Ms. Eide had me at 1953, and really won me over with the reality of Eliza's plight and her determination and pluck to continue writing, even though her topics about racial, ethnic, and gender oppression were considered subversive for the era. The Memoir of Johnny Devine superbly captures the raw emotions and fears bubbling so near the surface in the early 1950s, all because the 'red scare' was sweeping through the US like a flash flood, snatching at the innocent along with the guilty. 

Communism and social issues both play a large role in this novel, perhaps uncomfortable to some, but also very real and necessary to understanding how events like the Salem Witch Trials and the 'red scare' could ever happen. Fear is a great motivator and paranoia is often birthed from that same fear.

However, don't suppose that just because Ms. Eide's latest deals with such somber topics that it's a book without humor, because it is awash with good humor and entertainment. I love the 1920s through the 1950s and so I loved the realism of the era captured on the page. But also, I admit this novel also chipped a little of the rose colored lenses I wear regarding earlier eras. Life wasn't perfect, neither were the people. Perhaps those happy little lives and marriages we see captured in such shows as I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best really go only skin deep, not even scratching the surface of reality.

The Memoir of Johnny Devine will make you think, if nothing else.

The Characters
I'm drawn to damaged characters. Eliza Saunderson was deeply scarred by her husband's infidelity and cruelty. When he died in the war, her first reaction was relief, followed by guilt. Now she spends her days writing articles about oppression and struggles with serious trust issues, especially when her older sister keeps pushing her to remarry because she's not getting any younger and marriage is the only respectable occupation for a woman. She's a sympathetic character with strong passions toward the downtrodden and I can connect to those things.

As for Johnny Devine, I believe firmly that anyone can be redeemed. John hides nothing while he's writing his memoir. He was a louse and a scoundrel with more sexual partners than you can shake a stick at. But that's not the man he is now, and I loved seeing how God changes lives. I've found throughout my life that a lot of Christians try to pretend that their lives are perfect, when in reality, we're all sinners, neither better or worse than Johnny Devine and his string of lovers and self-indulgence. He has no arrogance about his salvation because he knows Who did the raising up and renewal of his life. His is a beautiful and heart-rending story of redemption.

Millie and Duncan, John's servants, are both dear souls, especially Millie who reaches out to Eliza and helps her realize the compassion and forgiveness of a heavenly Father. All of the characters, even the ones I despised, even the ones like Eliza's sister Betty who is one of the naggiest women on earth, felt genuine.

The Writing
I am absolutely over the moon when it comes to Camille Eide's writing! Her work is fresh and original, with an authentic voice of realism that makes me feel all the things I should be feeling, without the sensation that I'm being prodded there by artifice. I wish all writers possessed her same mastery of voice for truly, Ms.Eide's work is a cut above the rest in my book!

My Final Thoughts

Every time I pick up one of Ms. Eide's novels, I'm reminded anew of how much I love her work. I never imagine it possible for me to love her next book more than the one I just read, but it always happens! Crazy, I know, but there you have it. She is now of my favorite authors, who I will continue to treasure and whose works I will continue to read for as long as she writes. I encourage anyone who loves "real" fiction and who yearns to be divinely touched by an author's writing, reminded of God's faithfulness, to give Camille Eide's books a try, be it this one, or Like There's No Tomorrow or Like a Love Song (review to be written at some point).

Also, I must mention that the end of The Memoir of Johnny Devine happens at Christmastime, which is why I'm adding it to my Christian fiction list. :)

And I'm adding my casting choices for this story just for kicks! James as John, Joan as Eliza, Louise as Millie, and Bette as Betty (funny how that one just sort of fell into place). :)