poor unfortunate souls: the decline of the great Disney villain

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“You’re speechless, I see.  A fine quality in a wife.”

“She shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.”

“Long live the king.”

You recognized all those lines, right?  They’re quotes taken from the mouths of some of the greatest, most evil villains ever to grace (deface?) the screen: Jafar, Maleficent, and Scar.  Disney movies might be marketed to kids but that doesn’t mean they write weak, limp-wristed villains.  From the evil queen in Snow White to Gaston to Ursala, Disney villains have been alternately terrifying and fascinating children (and adults) for decades.

But a conversation with a fellow Disney geek made me realize something: great Disney villains are becoming scarcer and scarcer with each passing year.  The only one that comes to mind from semi-recent years is Mother Gothel.  She is one of the most wicked, well-developed villains in any Disney film.  But other than her?  Well, spellbinding Disney villains are kind of rare.

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Before I go any further with this, a couple of caveats:

  1. Just because I don’t view every recent Disney villain as being a great villain doesn’t mean I don’t like them as a character + appreciate the writers’/voice actors’ skills.
  2. I do appreciate how some Disney films are going with antagonists (human or otherwise) instead of straight-up villains.  It adds variety and can actually make the story more interesting and rich.

Okay, so here’s my biggest quibble with recent Disney villains: there are too many ‘plot twist villains’.

You know what I’m talking about.  The villain originally appears as someone good, someone who you’d never suspect (if it weren’t for this trope being used soooo much)…and then they turn out to have been the Big Bad all along.  There are a trillion examples of this type of villain these days (and it’s not just limited to Disney).  King Candy, Hans, Professor Callaghan, that villain in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ernesto de la Cruz, Charles Muntz…the list could go on and on.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having this type of villain. (Except that it’s come to be very expected these days.)  When done well, this trope can add a ton of angst and depth to a story (also, it can be one thing that makes me absolutely loathe a villain – see: Alexander Pierce and Mysterio).

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But there’s one problem (in my opinion) with having so many Disney villains follow this pattern.  And it’s that they don’t get development as a villain/enough time to be villainous.  Classic Disney villains were really allowed to cut loose and ham it up – just think of Ratigan or Ursula or Maleficent or Hades or Prince John All superb villains.  It’s a blast to watch them take control of the movie and be all evil and villainous and soooo entertaining. (Also: Disney villains need to get more songs these days!)  I know that if every single villain was so over the top it would get exhausting.  We need quieter, more methodical villains too (like Jafar or Frollo).

I guess what I’m saying is that I want more villains who revel in their evil plots, who are unabashed and unashamed, who do everything possible to make the hero’s life miserable.  You know why?  So that when they are defeated, it’s as glorious and satisfying as possible.  I may enjoy villains, but there’s something so right about them getting their comeuppance.

Again, I’m not saying that Disney never does ‘plot twist villains’ well.  They’ve created several great ones.  But maybe it’s time for them to return to their roots (especially considering all the remakes we’ve been getting) and come up with some more epic, iconic villains.  They went in the right direction with Mother Gothel and Bowler Hat Guy (from Meet the Robinsons).  They can write amazing villains, no doubt about it.  And I’d love to see more of them.

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Do you agree that Disney villains have become a bit lame?  Or do you totally disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

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mini book reviews {#6}

Light Inside Library

The last few months have been kinda weird for me in terms of book reading habits.  Sometimes it’ll take me a hundred pages or more to get into a book (idk why I keep reading).  Sometimes I’ll read five intensely amazing books at once…and then not read for two weeks.  It’s very sporadic. (However, all that hasn’t slowed down my book buying. #bookdragonproblems)

ANYWAY.  Here are some mini book reviews for you!

The Spark by Kristine Barnett – Oh my word, this memoir was amazing.  I flew through it, captivated from start to finish.  It reminded me of Room, Good Will Hunting, and Seven From Heaven all rolled into one.  Super interesting, awesome story.  Really recommend it to just about everyone.

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Forged Through Fire by Mark D. McDonough – McDonough’s experiences are alternately horrifying and inspiring (he was burned very severely when he was a teen and most of the book is about how he came back from that).  That being said, a lot of the medical details in this book turned my stomach and it seemed like the author was patting himself on the back a little too much. (Idk.  Could have just been me.)  An amazing story, no doubt, but not really my thing. (I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier – My heart cannot handle this book.  It’s a beautiful, poignant, gentle, wistful, bittersweet novel with entrancing characters, a setting reminiscent of A Little Princess, and way too many opportunities for tears.  One of the best books I’ve read all year.

Rook by Sharon Cameron – Retellings are some of my favorite things so when I learned there was a YA novel inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel and set in a dystopian world, I knew I had to read it.  Rook isn’t the best retelling I’ve ever read, but there was plenty to love (especially Tom – he’s my fave).  If you like TSP, you’re almost sure to enjoy it.

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Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray – I’ve never before read a Star Wars book that wasn’t based expressly off an SW movie so Master and Apprentice was a new experience for me.  And I loved it!  Gray captured Obi-Wan’s character perfectly (and since he’s my favorite Star Wars character, I really loved that).  And the story itself was very entertaining.

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman – This is hands down the best, most convicting Christian nonfiction book I’ve read since Do Hard Things.  In tough (yet compassionate) language, Idleman urges readers to take a look at their relationship (or lack thereof) with Jesus.  Powerful, practical, and just what I needed.

A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause – During my trip to the States earlier this year I became a reasonably enthusiastic fan of the reality TV show Project Runway.  I picked up ADFTW because I’d heard it compared to Project Runway.  And those comparisons were spot-on!  It was a fluffy, breezy read but still hugely enjoyable.

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Calvin by Martine Leavitt – I’m still not sure what to think of this book.  It’s about a teenager named Calvin who was born the day Bill Watterson’s last Calvin & Hobbes comic strip debuted.  Lately, he’s been having episodes where he senses the presence of ‘Hobbes’…and he believes the only way to stop these visions/whatever you want to call them is to track down Bill Watterson.  It’s a short novella that raises a bunch of questions yet has an oddly satisfying ending.  But definitely weird all the way around.

The Seat Beside Me by Nancy Moser – I’ve enjoyed Moser’s historical fiction (particularly her novel about Jane Austen’s life) but I’d never read any of her contemporary fiction until I picked up The Seat Beside Me for free on Kindle.  The ending wrapped up too easily (IMO) but the rest of it was great and kind of emotional.

What books have you been reading?  Do any of the ones I’ve listed sound interesting?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

my (totally not) definitive ranking of every major Star Wars movie

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Why ‘not definitive’?  Well, I’ve seen most Star Wars films only once (and it’s hard to rank them definitively because of that).  But I have a ton of thoughts about practically all of them and rankings are fun, so yeah.  I might post an updated ranking when I rewatch all the films in preparation for Rise of Skywalker (for which NO ONE had better give me spoilers when the time comes).  So, without further ado, here are my Star Wars film rankings (from worst to best)!

#10 – Solo

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I was almost surprised with myself when I put Solo at the very bottom of this ranking.  But I’m finding it hard to think of anything I like about it.  Enfys Nest was cool.  I enjoyed seeing Han and Chewie’s friendship begin.  Lando made me laugh.  But other than that, this film was dull and forgettable.  I struggled through one viewing and haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the film fully since.

#9 – Attack of the Clones

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When you have to literally force yourself to sit through a movie, you know it’s bad.  There are so many things wrong with this film – and very little right.  The only parts I actually enjoyed were Obi-Wan’s pursuit of Jango Fett and, um…I’m trying to think of any other good bits.  Can’t come up with any.  Oh!  Really, actually loved the whole arena fight and how resourceful Padme was and how awesome all the Jedi were.  Very, very cool.

Other than that, though, Attack of the Clones was simply awful.  I can forgive some awkwardness between Anakin and Padme because they’re both so young.  But their relationship crossed the line from awkward to toxic very quickly (why Padme didn’t turn and run when Anakin did his whole psychopathic “I killed them.  All of them.” is beyond me).  Just no.

(The only reason this is ranked above Solo is because I like some of the characters better than Solo’s characters.  Mostly Obi-Wan.)

#8 – The Phantom Menace

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Honestly, this film is only better than Attack of the Clones (IMO) because of Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Padme.  They are the only parts of the this film that make it more watchable and enjoyable than AotC.  Padme is probably at her best in The Phantom Menace: strong, determined, smart, and overall a joy to watch. (It also helps that she’s not infatuated with a whiny teenager.)  I can’t say enough good things about Obi-Wan + Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of him.  And Liam Neeson is always cool.

AND the three-way fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul may possibly be my favorite lightsaber battle.  It’s intensely personal, the visuals are amazing, and just…yeah.  Awesome. (And sad.)

Other than all that, The Phantom Menace isn’t the greatest.  I don’t really care about the bad acting (and there actually isn’t too much of that).  But, again, it’s boring.  And a bit weird in places.  And Jar Jar drives me up the wall.  There are elements of a good, or even great movie in The Phantom Menace, but it mostly misses the mark.

#7 – The Empire Strikes Back

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Okay.  I know that most Star Wars fans consider Empire the best Star Wars movie of all time.  I know that.  But I had a hard time liking it.  I think it’s because I found Luke, Han, and Leia supremely annoying for a lot of the movie.  There were some spellbinding action sequences and plot twists (though can the I-am-your-father thing really be called a plot twist anymore?).  But Han and Leia bickered like five year olds throughout most of the film and Luke was alternately whiny and foolishly headstrong.

Maybe I’m seeing it all wrong.  I’ve only watched Empire once and my opinions could very well change the next time I see it.  But right now, I’m not finding a whole lot to love.  I did like Yoda more than I thought I would.  The whole Han frozen in carbonite (I almost said kryptonite, haha) was genuinely emotional. And I LOVE how Luke reached out with the Force to get Leia’s help.  But overall, I would have to say that Empire isn’t my cup of tea.

#6 – Return of the Jedi

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Everything from this film and upward is super hard for me to rank.  Super hard. (Except for my number one pick, which has always been non-negotiable.)  I just wanted y’all to know that.

So.  Return of the Jedi.  This film genuinely delighted, intrigued, and moved me in several places.  I know many people think that the opening escape from Jabba’s palace takes too long and doesn’t add anything to the plot, but those scenes were among my favorites.  Really, really awesome how everyone works together to bring off the escape. ❤ 

And then you get into the meat of the story – the conflict between Luke and Vader, the Rebellion and the Empire.  It’s all really good and interesting.

Overall, I found myself liking all the characters a LOT more in Jedi than I did in Empire or A New Hope.  So that made me happy.  I didn’t love the Ewoks but at least they weren’t as annoying as Jar Jar.  Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, a solid Star Wars film that wrapped up the original trilogy really well. (And I actually think it’s great that George Lucas put prequel Anakin as a Force ghost in the last scene – it made me Feel Things.)

#5 – The Last Jedi

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As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t hate The Last Jedi.  I actually really enjoyed it.  I don’t ship Finn and Rose and I didn’t care much about their little subplot but everything else was BRILLIANT.  Luke and Rey on the island.  Poe’s storyline.  Rey and Kylo’s connection and the stunning fight in Snoke’s throne room.  Luke’s final stand.  Luke and Leia.  Almost everything about this film is utterly beautiful and poignant.  It’s basically my aesthetic (visually and emotionally).

#4 – The Force Awakens

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I remember having insomnia and deciding to watch The Force Awakens for the first time.  I got my phone and rented it from Google Play.  The bedroom was pitch dark and I held my phone in my hands and it was like holding the galaxy in my hands.  The opening fanfare, the stars, the alternately bright and tragic story…it was an amazing feeling/experience that I’ll always remember.

Anyway.

HAN SOLO’S DEATH BROKE ME.  Just felt like getting that out of the way.  It’s horrible and gruesome and made me hate Kylo a hundred times harder.  I know Harrison Ford wanted it and was probably super happy about it, but I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY??? *tears*

I love the rest of The Force Awakens though.  Rey is an amazing heroine.  Finn and Poe steal the show.  All the little nods to the original trilogy made my day.  And the overall coolness factor of the different planets and character designs and costumes is undeniable.  I look forward to watching and rewatching TFA a bunch of times in the future.

#3 – A New Hope

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I remember watching this with my dad for the very first time. (Isn’t that true for so many Star Wars fans?)  I thought A New Hope was one of the coolest, most amazing movies in the world and I’d have rewatched it a million times if I could have.  I was maybe twelve or thirteen and I had never seen anything like it.  I bought a book of the film that I think was literally from the seventies (I found it at a flea market).  It was like a longish storybook with a bunch of photos from the movie throughout the text and I read it so many times.

I remember that Obi-Wan was my favorite character right from the start.  And he’s remained my favorite character in the franchise ever since.

A New Hope may not be my favorite Star Wars movie.  But the little ache of nostalgia that it calls up inside of me (coupled with the memories of my dad and how he talked about seeing it in theaters as a little kid and loving it too) makes it the most meaningful Star Wars film to me.  I still remember my reaction to certain scenes so, so vividly (which is rare for me).  Kind of amazing. ❤

#2 – Revenge of the Sith

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I realize that it’s kind of weird to have Revenge of the Sith in the second-to-best spot in a ranking of Star Wars movies.  But there are a few reasons for why I put it so high on my list.  First of all, Anakin’s fall from grace (when it finally happens) is incredibly well done.  It’s insidious (haha) and heartbreaking and completely believable, the way Palpatine preys on Anakin’s fears and offers such a ‘good’ solution to them via the Dark Side.

Additionally, I kinda grew up watching the Clone Wars TV show so the characters/setting/mood of Revenge of the Sith is familiar and nostalgic for me.  RotS isn’t a perfect film by any means, but it’s a personal favorite of mine.  Easily the best film in the prequel trilogy. (Plus, I love villain stories and prequels in general.  So that bumps up my ranking as well.)

#1 – Rogue One

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Nothing can match the perfection of this film. (At least so far.)  This post is super long already so I’m not going to dig deep into my love for Rogue One.  But everything about it – story, characters, music, fan-service, battles, ending – is perfect (in my opinion).  And let’s just leave it at that for now. 😉

So.  Tell me – how do you rank the films?  Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?  And how were you introduced to Star Wars?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

five ways to make writing more fun

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The past few weeks, I’ve had to force myself to write.  Getting words onto the page was (almost) literally painful – I can’t even describe the sensation but it was awful.  Trust me.  At any other time, I might have stopped writing for a few days or weeks or whatever, but I’d just gotten edits back from a beta reader and I really wanted to get the fourth draft of The Darkness is Past done before NaNoWriMo.

I still don’t know if I’m going to reach that goal.  But what I do know is that writing has become a bit easier for me lately.  I think there are several reasons for that: I got back to really praying before each writing session, I got over a thorny plot problem, and several stresses in my day to day life have lessened (or disappeared entirely). 

There were/are also some methods that I used during my writing slump (and that I continue to use) in order to keep myself motivated – and to help make writing fun. (The fun part is coming in more now that writing isn’t torture.)  I thought I would share them with you; I know I’m always on the lookout for new, fun writing tips and tricks to give me fresh inspiration and motivation.  And I’m going to share five of my own with y’all today!

Method #1 – Make sure you’re comfortable.

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Minimizing distractions and discomfort while writing is one of the best ways (I’ve found) to really focus on/enjoy the actual craft of writing.  You know what I mean.  Finding the perfect word to complete a sentence, the perfect way to describe a minor character (without using the corny “She looked in the mirror and saw-” trick)…all of that.

Granted, my writing chair isn’t the most comfortable to sit on for long periods of time, but I do everything else I can to get comfy.  Socks and a shawl when the basement is cold (happens quite a bit).  The ‘eye protection’ mode switched on on my word processor.  Some water to keep myself hydrated.  When you feel good about yourself, it’s so much easier to relax and feel good about your writing.

Method #2 – Listen to music.

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Obvious, right?  But it really is so useful for having fun while writing.  I like to pull up a different playlist or movie soundtrack each time I write, just to keep my mind fresh.  There are some stand-bys I’ll listen to more than once (like my novel’s playlist or some three hour compilation of sad movie soundtracks).  But more often than not, I’ll play something unique.

I recently started listening to a bunch of videos from Ambient Worlds and they are the BEST.  They take well-known movie franchises like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings and then do a one or two or three hour long video with music from the soundtrack + appropriate sound effects.  For example, their Tatooine video has the Binary Sunset theme (plus some other scoring) and the sound of desert winds.  Incredibly immersive and helpful.

Method #3 – Listen to ambient sounds.

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If listening to music as you write isn’t your thing (but you still want to get away from your surroundings), try turning on some ambient sounds.  There are great mixes all over Youtube – like a book-filled attic during a rainstorm (complete with gently crackling fire) or a rainforest at nighttime.  Again, very cool and helpful.  I’ve used both music and ambient sounds during writing and I find both fun and enjoyable (though I tend to prefer music overall).

Noisli is also a great ambient sound option if you’d rather not go on Youtube (for fear of descending into The Great Void Of Procrastination).

Method #4 – Bribes/Rewards.

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Now that I have an actual job and actual money, I use this technique much more frequently than I used to.  Right now, I have an adorable Obi-Wan Funko Pop coming to me from Amazon.  I’m not going to open the package and display him/it on my shelf until I finish the fourth draft of my novel.  I’ll probably have some sort of reward for myself once I win NaNoWriMo as well.

However, if you don’t have a lot of available cash (or you just don’t want to spend your money), you can still bribe/reward yourself for free (or mostly free).  I’ve done it plenty of times.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Watch a new movie from the library with a friend/sibling/SO.
  • Bake yourself a cake.
  • Binge a Netflix show or Youtube web-series at the end of a big project.
  • Read a great book (that you didn’t have time for while you were writing).
  • Call a good friend and celebrate – even if you’re ‘just’ celebrating writing a hundred words that day, it’s still cool.

Method #5 – Stop writing.

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I did this more than once during my writing slump.  There are times when you do need to push through the bad writing and lack of motivation.  But there are also times when your brain is screaming for a break – by that point, you’re probably doing yourself and your writing more harm than good. (Of course, if you’re on a deadline you’ll probably have to power through anyway.  But you get what I mean, right?)

Taking time away from your writing can be fun, but not if you constantly feel guilty that you’re not writing.  If you are feeling guilty, take a deep breath, drink some water, and tell yourself that you will get back to writing.  You’re not being lazy (well, unless you’re just procrastinating for no good reason – as I’ve done dozens of times).  You’re giving your mind a rest.

Were these tips helpful to you?  Do you have any ideas for making writing more fun?  I’d love to hear them!

Eva

book review: fire by night

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Lovely Julia Hoffman has always enjoyed the carefree life of her well-to-do Philadelphia family. But when she fails to attract the attention of Nathaniel Greene, a fierce abolitionist, she shocks her family by becoming a Union nurse. Will that be enough to win Nathaniel’s heart?

Phoebe Bigelow, from western Virginia, has always been a misfit, and when her brothers join the Union army, she also enlists–under false pretenses.

Soon, both have their eyes opened to the realities of war and suffering. Neither is quite ready for the demands of her new life, but their journeys of sacrifice and love are sure to change them in unexpected ways.

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One thing I admire about Lynn Austin is that she doesn’t shy away from introducing darker, grittier content and themes into her books – while still keeping very much within the established Christian fiction genre.  She isn’t afraid to place her characters in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations…or have them tackle the tough questions about God.  So much Christian fiction these days doesn’t provide enough challenges for the characters – or for the reader.  It’s refreshing when a faith-based book does both.

I could gush forever about the characters.  Julia has one of the most well-written, inspiring character arcs I’ve ever read.  It’s so gradual, her change from a spoiled Northern belle to a courageous, competent nurse who trusts God instead of her own strength.  I aspire to such greatness. 😉  The other main character in the book, Pheobe, is also an awesome character (though she doesn’t get as much of an arc?).  I love her and Julia’s friendship when they finally meet.

Lynn Austin did a rare thing – in Fire By Night, I didn’t actually mind when a new chapter switched to a different character.  You know how it sometimes is when you’re reading a book with multiple POV characters: you just want to get back to that one plotline because it’s the most interesting.  But Austin managed to keep both perspectives engaging.  I was mentally and emotionally invested almost right away.

Then there are the heroes.  The guys.  The love interests.  Some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now because ‘heroes’ in Christian novels are often bland and completely un-guylike and just…meh.  But not in Fire By Night.  Julia and Pheobe each have two love interests in the book, which might sound like overkill but Lynn Austin handled it super well.  There’s only a bit of a love triangle in Julia’s chapters and it gets shut down pretty quickly.

And the guys act normally!  They’re not simpering idiots, quoting the most well-known lines of Shakespeare and running a hand through their perfectly tousled hair every time the heroine says something the least bit stubborn or shocking.  They have actual lives; they’re actual people, apart from the heroines.  And the same goes for Julia and Phoebe.  They aren’t defined by their romantic relationships. (In fact, a large part of Julia’s character arc is figuring out that, while she’d like to be married, she can still serve God and have value without a husband.)

The writing is beautiful, as always.  Lynn Austin doesn’t have a writing style where you can point to any one line and say “YES.  That is gorgeous writing and I must put that quote everywhere”.  It’s more like…each word builds on the last one and wraps you in the book’s world.  It’s comforting and cozy, even when you’re trying to blink away tears.

Oh.  Yeah.  Fire By Night is a tearjerker of the first order.  I won’t get into why exactly it’s so heartbreaking because SPOILERS, but it definitely gets you in the feels.

One last thing: as I mentioned above, Lynn Austin isn’t afraid to pull out some hard questions about faith and have her characters really struggle with them.  The theme in this book is about how God doesn’t want our works, our own righteousness – He wants us.  Both Julia and Phoebe wrestle with this realization and it’s…it’s good.  It’s good to see mainstream Christian fiction (that I’m sure some outlets have labeled ‘Christian historical romance’) not tiptoeing around things that need to be said.  Christian fiction is supposed to encourage and inspire Christians – and point the world at large toward Christ.  I believe that Fire By Night accomplishes both goals amazingly well. ❤

Wow.  It feels like I haven’t written a book review in a long time. (Or at least a book review that wasn’t mandatory because I received an ARC or something.)  I want to change that, I really do!  Are there any books you’ve seen me read on Goodreads lately that you’d like me to review?  And have you read Fire By Night?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

why I love Shawn Spencer (but not Peter Quill)

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“Um…Eva?” you might say after reading the title of this blog post.  “What exactly do these two characters have in common?”

Well, they’re both snarky, wisecracking problem solvers who’ve lost their mother (one to divorce, the other to death) and have an affinity for all things 80’s.  Additionally, both Shawn Spencer (from the TV show, Psych) and Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord from the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy…and other films) are ENTPs.  I, on the other hand, am an ISTJ – which means I have a lot of trouble getting along with (or even tolerating) ENTPs.  

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After watching Infinity War, I told one of my friends (and all you readers, I think?) that I didn’t like Peter Quill.  Not at all.  I thought/hoped that Guardians of the Galaxy might change my mind, but it only confirmed what I’d already known: Peter Quill and I would never be friends IRL.

But yeah, cool, whatever.  I accepted that and moved on.  However, I recently got an urge to rewatch a bunch of Psych episodes that I love.  And as I did so, I realized two things: Shawn and Peter are [almost] the same character and…I really, really, really like Shawn.  How could this be???  To answer that question, I set out to write a blog post documenting the whys and hows and wherefores. So join me as I try to figure it out!

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As I said above, the differences between Shawn and Peter aren’t so wide at first.  They each walk a fine line with being troubled by their past, restless in their present, and unconcerned with their future. (Relatively speaking.)  And they each annoy me, in similar ways.  As an ISTJ, it drives me crazy when people constantly make jokes (especially during serious moments or about serious things).  Shawn and Peter both do that.

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Still, there’s something of a difference.  Shawn is capable of being calm, level-headed, and utterly serious when the situation demands it.  And, unlike Peter, it doesn’t have to be the most dramatic, life-or-death situation ever.  Shawn tones it down when he senses that people need a different side of him to lean on, to vent to…anything.  Peter, on the other hand, uses humor to distance himself from practically anything that could cause him emotional stress, strain, or even just an awkward conversation. (Which is kinda selfish at times, IMO.)

I do get Peter’s point of view.  So often, I try to escape or avoid emotional situations or moments (though not with humor, because that’s just not me).  But when someone really needs you, you’ve got to give a little.  When your girlfriend (who apparently you love more than anything) is having a SERIOUS CONVERSATION with you about YOU HAVING TO KILL HER (maybe) you don’t need to BE SILLY. *is greatly annoyed*

Shawn, however, allows himself to be vulnerable with the people he loves, with the people who need him.  He’s a funny guy, sure, but he always comes through when people need him to.  And I know that Peter does the same…kinda?  I’m not really angry with him for trying to beat up Thanos and ‘ruining everything’ (because it was obviously part of the one, winning future Doctor Strange saw).  It’s more that I see Peter as being really selfish in most situations? (Except the absolutely most dire ones.)  Idk how to explain it?

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He wants to save himself from having to deal with anything – like helping Thor or being straight-up with Gamora – and so he deflects with humor all. the. time.  It annoys me because um, yeah, I do see myself in that kind of coping mechanism (except I go the whole ‘ignore everyone’ route instead of the jokes thing).  But it also annoys me because, well, it’s annoying!  Imagine being Gamora and having all your attempts at a serious conversation shot down.  Uggggh.

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So I guess this whole thing is about Shawn being kinder and softer and somewhat less selfish than Peter.  Shawn’s jokes aren’t always on point (and, trust me, I’ve been irritated by him more than once).  But overall, I can accept/like/love him as a character far more easily than I can do the same for Peter Quill.

Do you like Shawn and/or Peter?  I’d love to chat about them with you in the comments!

Eva

why Kong: Skull Island disappointed me

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So, I had this character study of a favorite fictional character planned for my next blog post (still working on it!).  Then I watched Kong: Skull Island…and I have to complain/rant about it for a bit.  So yeah.  That’s what we’re doing today. *grins*  And because I love making lists, here are three reasons why this stupid movie was suuuuch a disappointment…

The story lost its vision.

Kong: Skull Island started out extremely promising.  In a little prologue set during 1944, an American airman and a Japanese airman both crash onto a mysterious island.  They’re continuing the fight that began in the skies when, suddenly, Kong appears.

Cut to black.

Then we get the credits, which are Very Serious and use stock footage from the 40’s-70’s to explain that the world is getting worse and worse and Is There Anything That Can Be Done About It?  After that, you have these two scientist types who want to investigate a previously uncharted island.  The Vietnam War has just ended, the country is still kinda in turmoil, and they want to explore the island before the Russians do. (Well, that’s what they say at the time.  You learn later that that isn’t exactly the reason.)

John Goodman and Corey Hawkins in Kong: Skull Island (2017)
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It’s a reasonably interesting set-up, right?

But here’s my problem with Kong: Skull Island’s story.  The first half hour of the film sets up these juicy questions and issues.  One character who goes on the quest is an anti-war photographer who falls in love (kinda?) with a former SAS operative and butts heads with a warmongering military officer.  There’s so much potential for conflict there!  All those ideologies colliding and being forced to work together to survive?  Awesome.

Not to mention that the film treats the invasion of the island and the disruption of its inhabitants as a commentary on the wrongness of the Vietnam War.  So many things, deep and powerful things, could have been said and shown throughout the movie.  But instead, it devolved into a bunch of monsters gorily eating people and fighting each other.

The cast was utterly wasted.

John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddleston in Kong: Skull Island (2017)
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(No, I don’t mean they were drunk, lol.)

It should be a crime to assemble (no pun intended – you’ll get it in a second) such a stellar, amazing, talented group of actors and then proceed to squander all that talent.  The cast was what made me eager to see Kong: Skull Island in the first place.  They got Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson together in one movie (not for the last time, y’know) and RUINED IT.

I literally know none of their characters’ names, so…Tom Hiddleston was the only slightly good thing about this movie.  His character didn’t get much development (no one did, except mayyyybe John C. Reilly’s character) but he was pretty cool and, um, very attractive. 😉  Probably the only time I’ve actually been attracted to Tom Hiddleston. (Weird, I know.  I just don’t really find him all that appealing as Loki – most of the time.)

Tom Hiddleston in Kong: Skull Island (2017)
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Samuel L. Jackson turns into this madman who hates Kong because Kong killed some of his fellow soldiers.  I guess it’s an okay character arc and Jackson tries to sell it, but there’s so little for him to work with.  The characters are paper thin and the script is flat and dull.  So much acting ability, so little to do with it.

And don’t get me started on Brie Larson’s character.  She probably had the most potential to be an interesting character – she’s an anti-war photographer going on an expedition that is more than a little militaristic in tone.  There were so many opportunities for her to have interesting conversations with various characters.  But instead she was demoted to ‘the woman who screams whenever the monster appears’.  Uggggggh.  I would have loved to see her go toe to toe with Samuel L. Jackson’s character (they have great [platonic] chemistry, as seen in Captain Marvel).  But no.  That didn’t happen.

So many missed opportunities.

I just…didn’t care.

Like I said above, the director/writer kind of acted like the invasion of the island was an allegory for the Americans going into Vietnam.  But the metaphors quickly become muddled.  Was it good that they came to the island?  Bad?  Does anyone care?  I certainly didn’t.

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There was also some interesting moral ambiguity with how Kong seemed to actually have a soul?  Or at least be able to think like a human?  Idk?  It’s all very weird and wasn’t explained well.  I tried to like the film, but there were no well-rounded characters (with the exception of John C. Reilly) and the stakes didn’t engage or excite me at all.

(The monsters were pretty cool though.  I liked seeing them – especially Kong – smash stuff.  And I liked that it was set in the 70’s.  Cool aesthetic.)

Have you watched Kong: Skull Island?  What did you think of it?

Eva