i don’t know what to write.

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So.

Like the title of this blog post says…I don’t know what to write. My life has been changing a lot in the past weeks and months – maybe not on the outside so much as on the inside. Spiritual upheaval. Emotional and mental upheaval. All that good/hard stuff. I helped out at my church’s winter camp and then a week later went on an insane 24+ hour-long road trip to a hugely helpful conference at Falls Baptist Church in Wisconsin and…yeah. It’s been crazy.

Also, I’ve barely been watching any movies or TV shows so I don’t have much of anything new to discuss in that department. Books have been a little better. I’m currently reading Peter Pan for the first time. It’s a little strange but beautiful too.

I’ve gotten some notes back from beta readers for Flicker and I’m getting excited to see what everyone else has to say as well. I may even start writing at least one scene that I know will have to be added (I don’t like doing any editing until I get everyone’s feedback, but I want to revisit the story so bad).

Anyway.

Oh, I’ve also been listening to a bunch of *blushes* Patch the Pirate albums. #mychildhood They are SO GOOD, you guys. Chock-full of spiritual truths, presented in a super fun way. If you’ve listened to any of those albums/songs, let me know in the comments!

Honestly, I’ve been wondering if this blog is even still relevant to my life and all the changes I’ve been going through. I do love this community but I feel like I’ve moved on from a lot of the stuff I used to be obsessed with?

I’M SO CONFUSED, Y’ALL. (And I’m sure you’re confused by how I’m skipping around to so many different topics, all in one post.)

So, yeah. I’m just going to publish this post now and see what the next few days/weeks/months bring.

Love you lots. ❤

Eva

ranking every live-action Disney remake

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Few things have sparked such endless debate, love, and hate as Disney’s live-action remakes of their most beloved films. Almost every remake debuts to underwhelming reviews and unfavorable comparisons to the OG film. And yet…Disney is still churning them out. Why? For money, certainly. But could it also be because they’re kinda cool? I don’t love or even like every Disney live-action remake (as you’ll soon see) but they intrigue me.

So here’s a whole blog post about them – ranking the remakes from worst to best. (This is totally subjective blah blah blah.)

Aladdin (2019)

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I wanted to love this one. I really did. A couple of my closest online friends had already watched + really, really, really liked Disney’s Aladdin remake and from what I’d seen (esp. ‘Speechless’) I was sure I would too. But then I watched it. And it was blah. Meh. Whatever you want to call it. I think it’s maybe because I love the OG Aladdin so much, but even apart from that I found that 2019’s Aladdin felt kind of cheap (in places) and dull and soooo forgettable. (Sorry if you liked it! I’m honestly glad you did. It just wasn’t for me.)

‘Speechless’ is still fire though.

The Lion King (2019)

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This is the latest live-action remake I’ve seen (thanks to Disney+) and it was a great one-and-done movie. I enjoyed it while it was playing (adored the visuals, as is usual with these remakes, and teared up in more than one place) but I don’t have any wish to see it again. *shrugs* The worst films are the ones you feel ambivalent about, tbh.

Dumbo (2019)

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I actually struggled with where to place Dumbo on this list. Yes, it was overlong and a bit boring in places. But there were enough things about it that I enjoyed to make me wonder if it really deserved third worst place. *shrugs* I am death on boringness in movies though, so… ANYWAY. I loved the visuals/general aesthetic, Colin Farrell, the lady acrobat, and did I mention the visuals? Also, ‘Baby Mine’ made me cry so there’s that.

The Jungle Book (2016)

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THE VISUALS. I was so disappointed when I found out that everything was actually just CGI. Disney’s live-action Jungle Book is still excellent though. Especially with its portrayal of Bagheera. (Who is actually me around my siblings and less mature acquaintances.) Pretty much the only reason it’s relatively low on my list is that I haven’t seen it in ages. But it’s a bomb movie. Y’all should check it out, even if you dislike the OG Jungle Book (there’s some insanely weird stuff in that movie).

Lady and the Tramp (2019)

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I don’t like dogs. *shocked gasp* But I really enjoy the original Lady and the Tramp. I approached the Disney+ original with more than a little skepticism and…it was great. Everybody got a character upgrade (as in, more depth), there was a great villain, and the runtime never felt too long or padded. Sooooo sweet and lovely and just good.

 

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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*swoons over le aesthetic* This movie is beauty and depth and light and dark and so many emotions. ❤ I love it more than the original film and I’m unashamed of that.

Cinderella (2015)

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AHHHHH THIS MOVIE IS THE BEST REMAKE AND THEY’LL NEVER TOP IT.

Well. Maybe they will. But THIS is how you do a remake, Disney! Take an older film that doesn’t have a ton of character development or anything like that and turn it over to a veteran filmmaker who can stuff it with gorgeous visuals and heartrending moments and brilliant characters and deep, deep lessons about life and people. All wrapped up in a beautiful fairytale.

*will never stop feeling all the feels about this movie*

And, y’all…

“Have courage and be kind.”

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Sooooo…what’s your favorite Disney live-action remake? Least favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Eva

book review: the land beneath us

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In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for—fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family—the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-Day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true?

Somehow I missed reading the second book in Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise At Normandy trilogy – I’ve read the first and the third instead. *shrugs* Anyway, this was an okay book. I found both Clay and Leah to be somewhat unique characters (their backstories and Leah’s naivety especially), which is commendable in a genre so lacking in uniqueness (Christian historical romance). I would have liked there to be more zip in Sundin’s writing style (it edges toward blandness) but she told her story well.

My biggest complaint with The Land Beneath Us was that Leah suffered almost no PTSD or anything like that after she was raped. It seemed very unrealistic to me. Sundin tried to pass off Leah’s lack of response as ‘she’s a Christian so she can handle it’ but I know several Christians (even in my own family) who struggle with PTSD months or even years after traumatic events. So…yeah. (The whole thing with Clay’s dream also annoyed me but I’m not getting into that for time’s sake.)

Sundin did have several good things to say about forgiveness; really appreciated that. Overall, I know this book will greatly appeal to fans of her previous work + romantic WWII fiction in general.

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The Life Update (*dun, dun, dunnnnn*)

Not much is going on? I’m waiting for all my betas to get back to me with their critiques of Flicker and that keeps me from wanting to write. (I probably should try though.) I’ve also been going through a lot of soul-searching, drawing closer to God (I hope), and generally trying (through Him) to do whatever He wants me to do. I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting here but I’ll see what happens. (There’s a more serious Valentine’s Day post floating around in my brain but I’m unsure whether I’ll actually write it. :P)

Let me know how you’ve been doing! ❤

Eva

the never have I ever writing tag

Hello, blog readers! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I want to get back to posting regularly – not sure it will happen, but I can always hope and plan, right? I don’t have too many good ideas for blog posts right now so if there’s a topic, movie, book, or TV show that you’d like me to write about (or write more about) let me know in the comments. ❤ With that said, let’s get into the tag!

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I found this tag over on Abigail’s blog; she said anyone who wanted to answer it could do so (even though she didn’t tag me specifically) so yassss. Tags are always the best thing when you’re not sure what to blog about.

Rules

1. Link to and thank the blogger who tagged you. (Thanks, Abigail!)

2. Include the graphic somewhere in your post (or make your own!).

3. Answer the questions truthfully and honestly.

4. Tag 3 bloggers.

Never Have I Ever…

…started a novel that I did not finish.

Of course! I believe all writers have some lonely, unfinished drafts in their literal/digital files. I remember one novel in particular, a western called Reese, that never really found its ending.

…written a story completely by hand.

I’m sure I wrote some stories by hand as a little kid. But I’ve had a computer/word processor for almost as long as I can remember (whether it was the family computer or my own).

….changed tenses midway through a story.

Does that mean on purpose or accidentally? I know I’ve changed tenses accidentally – sometimes in the same scene. And I once tried to rewrite a novel from past tense to present (it didn’t work out).

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…not researched anything before starting a story.

Ohhhh yes. I remember a short story that my brother and I worked on – it was about the sinking of the Titanic. We had our characters watching TV. *facepalm* I can’t believe I was so un-knowledgeable about basic historical facts. 😛

….changed my protagonist’s name halfway through a draft.

I don’t think I’ve ever done this, though my brain is telling me I have at some point. I do change minor characters’ names sometimes (especially in my WIP, Flicker).

…written a story in a month or less.

More than once! It’s called NaNoWriMo.

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…fallen asleep while writing.

I’ve never done this.

…corrected someone’s grammar irl/online.

I consider that my greatest joy. (Not really, haha. I’d rather people didn’t make any grammar mistakes – myself included.)

…yelled in all caps at myself in the middle of a novel.

I’m sure I’ve had some great brainstorm while writing and have hastily typed an excited note to myself in-text. (Those bursts of inspiration are the BEST.)

…used “I’m writing” as an excuse.

Probably. (But it was probably true too – I don’t like lying. ;))

…killed a character who was based off someone I know in real life.

I assume this means as a ‘writer’s revenge’ thing and in that case, my answer would have to be ‘no’. But I have made up at least one nasty character who’s based off an actually nasty person IRL.

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…used pop culture references in a story.

Slipping Easter eggs into my story is fun but I usually disguise them. So, no overt pop culture references from me.

…written between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Yep, I’m sure I’ve done this. And probably napped a TON the ‘next day’.

…drank an entire pot of coffee while writing.

My taste buds start to hate coffee after the first cup (I almost never finish my first cup either, tbh). So…no.

…written down dreams to use in potential novels.

Yes! Once I had a very vivid, emotional dream and I wrote a whole novel based on it. (Though come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever finished that one either.)

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…published an unedited story on the internet/Wattpad/blog.

Never. I edit everything I post for public consumption, even (especially?) my fanfiction.

…procrastinated homework because I wanted to write.

I was homeschooled so I didn’t have homework. *gives self high-five*

…typed so long that my wrists hurt.

Don’t remember. My hands tend to hurt more than my wrists after I write for a long time but that’s usually just when I’m writing by hand.

…spilled a drink on my laptop while writing.

Never, thank goodness.

…forgotten to save my work/draft.

Incredibly rare, though I’m sure I’ve done it once or twice. I’m pretty automatic about pushing that ‘save’ button whenever I stop writing for a moment.

…finished a novel.

Technically, I’ve finished several novels. But I’ll only count any of them as truly finished when they’re published and can’t be tinkered with anymore.

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…laughed like an evil villain while writing a scene.

I’m usually quiet when I write…

…cried while writing a scene.

Yes. I used to try to force the emotion, especially when I’d hear of writer friends bawling over their work or read the old saying ‘no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader’. It never worked. But when I was on the second draft of Flicker, I cried more than once (without trying to make myself cry).

…created maps of my fictional worlds.

No. I don’t really like maps all that much. They bore me. 😛

…researched something shady for a novel.

Um…I’ve probably researched stuff about death and whether or not this or that type of bullet wound would kill someone. That’s about it though.

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I tag…

Hamlette’s Soliloquy

I’m Charles Baker Harris (And I Can Read)

Meanwhile, in Rivendell…

Feel free to answer the tag for yourself if you want!

Eva

books I’m excited to read in 2020

For me, rereading is everything. I rarely get excited about new releases, mainly because I don’t often know they’ve been released. But 2020 is different. There are several books coming out this year that I’m pretty excited about. So without further ado, here they are!

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

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I know. It’s kind of silly. But I’ve enjoyed The Selection series and The Siren and, well, I’m looking forward to losing myself in another frothy, sugary, royalty-drenched world.

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

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Sky Without Stars was a tremendously entertaining, well-written book. I loved how it retold Les Misérables in a completely fresh, captivating way. Because of this, I have high hopes for the sequel. (Also, pleeeease let this be a duology instead of a trilogy or big, unwieldy series.)

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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I haven’t read My Lady Jane but I quite enjoyed My Plain Jane and I think My Calamity Jane will be the best of all three. Because WESTERNS.

A brand new Once Upon A Western novella by Rachel Kovaciny

I’m pretty sure she’s publishing another one this year and I’m HYPED. Going to be so good.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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ACK I CAN’T WAIT. I was a bit leery when this book got announced, but after I read the title and saw the cover, a lot of my worry went away. Suzanne Collins is the QUEEN and I can’t wait to get my hands on a shiny copy of Ballad. I’m expecting intensity and feels and maybe some character cameos as well. ❤

Are you excited to read any of the books on my list? Or do you have other titles you’re excited for? Let me know in the comments!

Eva

beyond star trek: Leonard Nimoy in ‘Mission: Impossible’

This blog post was written for the Beyond Star Trek Blogathon hosted by Hamlette’s Soliloquy and The Midnite Drive-In. Click the links to see the full list of blogathon posts!

Leonard Nimoy = Spock.

Spock = Leonard Nimoy.

But before I knew who Spock was, I’d already been blown away by Leonard Nimoy’s mesmerizing, precise acting skills. My family owned exactly one season of Mission: Impossible during my childhood years – Season 4, the first season starring Leonard Nimoy. I watched those episodes over and over and over again with my siblings; Paris (Nimoy) was undoubtedly my favorite character (and continues to be so).

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Leonard Nimoy actually didn’t enjoy his stint on Mission: Impossible all that much because the character of Paris never really changed. Never grew as a person. Leonard Nimoy preferred portraying multi-faceted characters with hidden depths and goals and emotions. (Like Spock.) But I’m so grateful that he didn’t quit playing Paris after a couple episodes because, honestly, Mission: Impossible Season 4 is EVERYTHING to me.

Anyway, I thought I’d highlight three different episodes from this season, focusing on Paris’s role in each one. That way, you’ll hopefully be able to understand why I found Leonard Nimoy so cool right from the start.

Episode 7: ‘Submarine’

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If y’all only ever watch one episode of Mission: Impossible, it needs to be this one. The IM team is at the absolute top of their game and it’s really, really cool. You don’t get to see much of Paris as, well, Paris in ‘Submarine’ because he’s pretty busy being different people. First he’s a monk, then a brutal and sadistic SS officer. It’s too complicated to explain why he’s playing these roles, but trust me – it makes for a super compelling episode. A very layered performance, out of necessity.

(I kinda love how whenever Paris and Jim have to impersonate other people, they’re always at each other’s throats. (Like, for tension or whatever.) It’s funny, especially because Paris/Leonard Nimoy is usually so cool and calm.)

Episodes 14-16: ‘The Falcon’

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In this three-part story, Paris has yet another persona (or three). But there are three things about him/the character he plays that make this performance stand out. First of all, Paris is impersonating a magician and he’s basically already a magician? Or a disguise artist at least? He doesn’t have to reach very far to be all theatrical and yet you can see how Leonard Nimoy fully embraced the deceptive aspects of the role to make everything that much more interesting.

Secondly, there’s a LOT of face-switching that goes on in ‘The Falcon’. Far more than usual. And yet all the actors involved (but especially Nimoy, of course) do such a good job of remembering who they are under the face masks. It sounds really complicated (and it is) but just…yeah. Great acting all around.

And thirdly, this is one of the few episodes (if not the only one) where Paris is actually found out. Where his disguises fail him. So that’s really intriguing, how Leonard Nimoy was able to do some out of the ordinary, acting-wise, with that. (Though I don’t think the script gave him much time to explore the situation.) I like to think that he enjoyed the challenges that ‘The Falcon’ brought – it shook things up a little, with all the twists and turns and extra bits of acting expertise that were needed.

Episode 21: ‘Lover’s Knot’

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*groans*

This is probably my least favorite Season 4 episode because it feels very out of character for Paris. But it’s also the only episode (in this season at least) that gave Leonard Nimoy the chance to explore Paris’s inner life. I would love to know what he thought about it, if he thought Paris’s actions were out of character, etc. Basically, Paris falls in love with the IM team’s target – Lady Weston. And there’s a lot of sappiness and weird, awkward flirting and stuff. *scratches head* However, it’s still interesting to watch, as a Nimoy fan.

I’m forever grateful to Mission: Impossible for introducing me to such a talented, amazing actor as Leonard Nimoy. He’ll always be special to me because of Paris and that thrilling theme music and “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.

Have you seen any episodes of Mission: Impossible? Who’s your favorite character?

Eva

the only love triangle I like

Love triangles are one of the most maligned tropes in all of literary history. Yet they are also one of the most prevalent tropes, appearing in everything from classic literature to (nearly) every YA dystopian novel to date. Love them or hate them, love triangles are still A Thing. So is arguing about who should end up with who when THERE’S A HUGE WAR GOING ON. (In the book. Not real life. Hopefully.)

Love triangles annoy me to no end (more so in TV shows than books, I’ve found). But there is one love triangle that doesn’t annoy me. One I actually kinda love. One that is a shining example of what a good love triangle should look like.

And that love triangle is…

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Why? Why does Katniss, Peeta, and Gale’s love triangle not make me want to bash my head against a wall and rip up my copy of The Hunger Games or throw the remote at the TV screen? Well, I’ve come up with three good reasons.

Reason #1 – The focus isn’t on the love triangle.

I have read/heard of several YA books (particularly dystopians) where the plot is supposed to be enthralling and thrilling…but it’s really just three hundred pages of gorgeous-but-I-don’t-know-I’m-gorgeous teens angsting over each other.

Not so in The Hunger Games (or Catching Fire and Mockingjay).

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The focus of all three books is survival. Katniss’s survival. The survival of the people she loves, her home, and her country. Yes, a lot of that comes at the cost of pretending to have a relationship with Peeta or hunting with Gale. But Katniss doesn’t spend all her time obsessing about either guy. Even if they can both provide her with a lot, in terms of survival and even love. Her goal is to win the Games, help Peeta survive (not because of romantic feelings so much, but because she owes him something and recognizes he’s a far better person than she is), and take down President Snow.

Katniss’s relationships with Peeta and Gale are integral to her life and her story, but she has bigger stuff to worry about. And thankfully, Suzanne Collins focuses on those issues (for the most part) instead of Katniss’s love life.

Reason #2 – Each member of the love triangle is their own person.

Katniss is a hunter. An archer. A sister. A daughter. A rebel. A tribute. A murderer, even. But what she is not is someone purely defined by her relationship with a guy. Yes, the Capitol doesn’t see it that way – in their eyes, Katniss and Peeta are the only couple that matters. In the Capitol’s eyes, both Katniss and Peeta are really nothing without each other. But that just shows how shallow the Capitol is.

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In the same vein, Peeta is…Peeta. He’s the ultimate good guy, yes, but he also has issues with his family and he bakes and he’s super smart (he got in with the Careers, right?) and passionate about his beliefs. And Gale? Gale is also intense about what he believes to be right (and wrong). He’s skilled at making traps, he’d do anything for Katniss/her family, and he’s simply great. Flawed, but great.

Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are each their own person. All in relationships, yes (or wanting to be – sorry, Gale). But they are defined by so much more than that. I’ve read books where at least one member of the love triangle was simply ‘the bad boy’ or ‘the good guy’. No personality besides that of being a love interest for the heroine. But instead of skimping on character building for one or more of her characters, Suzanne Collins kicked the love triangle game up a step – and it’s awesome.

Reason #3 – Katniss makes the right choice.

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Yep. I admit it. I probably wouldn’t have liked the Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle as much if Katniss had chosen Gale. Or if she had chosen nobody. Now that Prim and her mom are gone, she needs support more than ever and Peeta was really the only one who could give it to her. Yes, there’s Haymitch but I feel that he’s still more broken than Katniss or Peeta. And just…too sarcastic. But Katniss and Peeta are undeniably right for each other and their relationship gives me all the happy (and sad and angsty) feelings.

And for once, I’m glad a heroine didn’t end up with the ‘bad boy’. *eye roll*

What are your thoughts on love triangles? On The Hunger Games? On Team Peeta or Team Gale? Let me know in the comments!

Eva