book review: beyond the sacred page

Meg Foxe has stumbled upon a book so powerful that it changes her life. Its words comfort and soothe her troubled mind like nothing else. But there’s a problem. The book is banned throughout England. And Pernell, her husband, the man she loves more than anything else in the world, has devoted himself to its total annihilation. Meg can’t bring herself to give up the book—but how long she can keep her secret hidden from Pernell?

Swept up in the turbulent world of sixteenth-century England and King Henry VIII, where William Tyndale’s English New Testament translation has been outlawed as heresy, Meg is about to align herself with those who risk their lives to read and distribute God’s Word. A thrilling espionage game of cat and mouse . . . a shocking discovery that threatens to shatter both a career and a marriage . . . a front row seat in the court of Henry VIII, where politics and religion mean life and death . . . Beyond the Sacred Page is an electrifying read—historical fiction at its best.

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It’s no secret that Jack Cavanaugh is my favorite author.  Almost all of his books are top favorites of mine, and Beyond the Sacred Page is definitely on that list – it’s one of the original five Cavanaugh novels that my grandfather gave me (the other four being Glimpses of Truth and the Songs in the Night trilogy) so it will always be special to me for that reason.  But it’s also a first-rate story with tons of historical detail, an intriguing plot, and vital, interesting characters. (Jack Cavanaugh FOR THE WIN, people.)

One thing that’s always stood out to me about Beyond the Sacred Page is that the two main characters – Pernell and Meg – are a married couple who genuinely love each other, support each other, and care for each other.  It’s a rare thing for the main character in a novel to be married, much less happily married, so that’s refreshingly unique. (Jack Cavanaugh always does a great job of portraying marriage in his books…and I’m sorry if this post is going to be half-review, half “Go read every one of this man’s books RIGHT NOW!”, but I really dig his stories so I really can’t help it.) 

Meg is a great heroine: strong, caring, compassionate, and brave (though not without her vulnerabilities and personal demons) and seeing her grow – mostly in a spiritual way – throughout the book as she discovers the wonders of the Bible is beautiful.  Her character changes were portrayed incredibly well and I really appreciate the skill Jack Cavanaugh has with writing from a woman’s point-of-view.  Well done.  Pernell is a bit more difficult to like, seeing as he’s dedicated his life to hunting William Tyndale and eradicating the English translation of the Bible from British soil, but his deep love  and concern for Meg and his high principles (misguided though they may be) have you (or, at least me) eventually warming to his character.  Particularly when you see him beside some of the other guys who are also ‘heretic-hunters’ but total creeps.

Oh, and there’s also Nicholas, the baker, who’s probably my favorite character in the whole book.  He’s awesome, but I can’t say much about him without giving away plot points and other semi-spoilery things.  So I’ll just leave it at that and discuss the other main(ish) minor character in Beyond the Sacred Page: Anne Boleyn.  I know, I know.  The whole thing with “the book’s main character meets every important historical figure of their era” is rather over-done (and Jack Cavanaugh does it quite regularly himself) but Meg’s encounter (and subsequent friendship – of sorts) with the queen was quite believable, considering the circumstances in which it came about. (Meg was summoned to court to entertain the queen with her expert playing of the virginals – a sort of harpsichord – and the queen liked her playing so much that she kept Meg around.)  I think the portrayal of Queen Anne was done in a respectful way – Jack Cavanaugh obviously believes that she became a Christian, something that, after having read other accounts of Anne Boleyn, I have no problem with.

What else is there to say?  Cavanaugh’s attention to historical detail and accuracy is, as always, astounding and his writing style much improved from Glimpses of Truth (though I may still like that one better – the characters, guys).  The plot is gripping, fast-paced, and full of tension (really full) and the last few chapters are particularly emotional.  I just finished reading it myself and I have to admit that I spent the last fifty pages or so trying not to cry and failing most of the time.  (I get super involved with these characters.  It’s embarrassing.)  No spoilers, though.  You’ll just have to read it for yourself.  I will say, though, that the first time I read this, I had just finished Glimpses of Truth and had been very shaken by a character’s death in there, so when I got to the place in Beyond the Sacred Page where it looked like another character would suffer the same fate, I skipped ahead to see if they did, in fact, die. (Something I pretty much never do.)  Thankfully they didn’t, which was a huge relief.

And that’s my review!  Did I convince you to read this book straightaway? (It’s only three dollars on Kindle.)  Or have you read Beyond the Sacred Page before?  Let me know in the comments…

Eva

little things {#13}

Dream, books, little reasons to smile, tumblr:

~bicycling

~Mr Knightley

~fresh air & sunshine

~chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

~spring

~curling up with a good book

~laughter

~my siblings

~fresh pencils

~fresh notebooks

~my new blog header (thoughts?)

~waking up early & getting things done

~this blog

~friends’ blogs

~the fandom life – it’s the best thing

~working on plot stuff for my book

~lemons

Eva

five things I love about ‘state fair’

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As soon as I stumbled across The Classic Movie Ice Cream Social Blogathon, I knew exactly what movie I wanted to talk about: State Fair, the 1945 version. (Of course.  Because I’ve only seen that one, and I’m already convinced that it’s the best.)  It’s such a light, happy, cheerful little movie…not really deep or serious or anything like that, but quite simply, a ray of sunshine.  Like Singin’ in the Rain, I suppose.  In fact, I’ve yet to decide whether I love Singin’ in the Rain or State Fair better.  Anyway, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like writing a bona fide review, so instead I’m listing five things that make State Fair one of my favorite movies of all time.

(By the way, if you want a more in-depth look at State Fair, I highly recommend Naomi’s review.)

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1. The brother-sister relationship.  It’s not often that one sees a brother-sister relationship in either films or books.  Brothers, yes.  Sisters, yes.  But hardly ever a brother and sister.  So it’s neat to see Margie and Wayne acting like normal siblings would – teasing each other, having fun together, etc.  It’s neat and, as I mentioned before, quite unique.  I also like how Margie and Pat’s relationship parallels Wayne and Emily’s. (Until, you know, it doesn’t.)  And I’d also like to add that the Frakes are a great example of what a regular family is like and it’s super.  Always a high point of the film for me.

2. The songs.  The first I watched State Fair, I must admit that I didn’t much care for the songs, but upon numerous re-watches they began to grow on me until I loved them all.  I mean, Rodgers + Hammerstein are geniuses and the songs of State Fair are alternately dreamy and romantic or catchy.  Or both.  Even now, I find myself humming ‘That’s For Me’ off and on throughout the day (just like Margie!).  I really enjoy all the songs, though I usually prefer songs in musicals to flow from the plot instead of being performed on-stage in the movie itself. (Does that make sense?)  But even though most of these songs are part of the entertainment at the fair – ‘That’s For Me’, ‘It’s A Grand Night For Singing’, and ‘All I Owe Ioway’ – I still really enjoy them all. (And I also enjoy how the melodies are picked up and played as background music at the fair.)

3. Dana Andrews.  Just in case you were wondering, YES, he deserves his own point on this list.  I believe that State Fair was the first Dana movie I watched after his devastating turn in The Ox-Bow Incident, and this light-hearted role was exactly what I needed to see him in.  As Pat, he’s so sweet and such a gentleman…basically, the role is perfect for Dana and I never tire of watching him. (In anything, but especially this.)  The only thing that could have made his role better was if he’d provided all the singing bits himself. (Because Dana had a great singing voice.)  Anyway, if you’re interested in watching a Dana Andrews film and you don’t want anything heavy, definitely check out State Fair.

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4. The costumes.  Margie has some lovely, lovely costumes in this film, but it’s Emily’s that really stick out, in my opinion.  Especially that dress with the silvery skirt and velvety blue top that she wears during ‘I Owe Ioway’ – that’s my favorite outfit in the whole movie.  I’m not an expert on fashion or movie costumes, so I’ll just say that if you yourself are a fashionista, State Fair will not disappoint.

5. The feel of it.  It’s something I can’t put my finger on, this indescribable happy feeling that fills me whenever I watch State Fair.  It’s bright and joyful and cheery.  Dana Andrews stars in one of my favorite roles of his.  The romance between Pat and Margie is like a blissful fairytale, complete with happy ending (the first time I watched this, there was only about a minute left on the film and things still weren’t patched up and I was getting really worried – but it all worked out in the end).  I just want to DIVE INTO this movie and live in it for a good long time.  It’s beautiful.  And it always makes my heart happy so, yes, I love State Fair and I’ll always love it.

Eva

P.S. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube!

bicycling & writing: an object lesson

For the past couple of days, I’ve been learning how to ride a bike. 

It was one of my goals for 2016 and I’m happy to say that I’m making a good bit of progress, though I’m still nowhere near to being able to ride perfectly.  My legs are scraped up, I have three new blisters, and my whole body aches, but I’m having lots of fun anyway, and I’m not giving up until I beat this thing.  I’ve already determined that.

What does all this have to do with writing?  Well, another one of my goals for this year was to revise my novel, The Bounty Hunter.  And I’ve been putting that off, afraid to touch that mess of a thing.  No determination.  None of the gumption that I’m showing in learning how to bicycle.

You know what I need to do?  I need to push through my reservations, my compunctions, my worries, my doubts and plow into my book with all the vigor and verve that I know I’m capable of.  Just like I’m pushing through my aches and pains to reach the other goal I set for myself.  Especially since I have Louis L’Amour’s quote staring me in the face every time I look away from my screen: “Start writing, no matter what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

So, turn up the music, ignore the question marks, and JUST WRITE.

Eva

my top fifteen favorite BBC robin hood episodes

BBC series of Robin Hood!!!!:

In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood kick recently (even if the show does tear my heart out) but since I didn’t feel like doing a detailed review of each season (mainly because Season 3 sucks so badly) I thought I’d just talk about my favorite episodes and in that way, get around to discussing my favorite characters and scenes and quotes because I have sooooo many of those.  Honestly, Robin Hood might be cheesy and anachronistic at times, but I still LOVE it because I don’t watch it for the historical accuracy, I watch it for the characters.  And the humor.  And the feels.  If you’ve ever started watching this show and abandoned it after the first couple of episodes, go back and give it another try!  The first three episodes aren’t my favorites, but episode four is quite serious and emotional and…well, I’d better just get on to the list, eh?

Tons of spoilers ahead, naturally.

(And I apologize beforehand for the absurd length of this post – it got away from me about a thousand words ago.)

“Parent Hood”

This was the episode where everything got really serious.  The first traitor in the gang, the first death in the gang, and Guy’s character already becoming more multi-faceted as you learn that he abandoned his own son in Sherwood Forest.  Up until this point, I hadn’t liked Roy much, but this episode focuses quite a bit on his character and as you get to know him better, you like him more.  Especially because he’s caught between a rock and a hard place AND he ends up sacrificing himself for the gang (and his mother).  “Parent Hood” marked the first time – of many – that I found myself tearing up during the show and for that reason, it will always stick with me.  Plus, everyone looks a thousand times more adorable interacting with the baby, so that’s a bonus.

“Brothers in Arms”

Joe Armstrong Robin Hood

One thing I love, love, love about Robin Hood (the show, not the character) is the abundance of cool minor characters.  And besides Roy (who, being in four episodes, doesn’t count as a really minor character), Tom A Dale is the first in a long line of great one-shot characters (or two-shot, in Carter’s case).  Djaq’s part of the gang at this point and her relationship with Allan, especially in this episodes, leads me to ponder what a Will/Djaq/Allan love triangle would’ve been like had Allan stuck with the gang.  Anyway.  Tom is a trickster, a con artist, but you can’t help but like him.  He’s a loveable rogue.  So, yes, FEELS.  Lots of them.  And not just with Tom’s death, but with Marian accepting Guy’s proposal and Robin’s reaction and all that.

“The Return of the King” & “A Clue: No” (it’s a two-part episode)

Even though the Season 1 finale has nothing on the Season 2 finale in terms of emotional punch, it’s still a wrenching couple of episodes to watch.  Because it’s like a dress rehearsal for when Marian actually dies, so you get all those emotions pouring out from everyone in the gang, only to have it all repeated about twelve episodes later, and I HATE that.  And then when she recovers, she still has to marry Guy and Robin goes AWOL and basically shuts out everything except his love for Marian.  Which leads to him insulting and rejecting Much in the rudest way possible, which is just another dress rehearsal for the first episode of Season 3.  So, why did I put these two episodes on my list?  It’s because both are well-crafted and thoughtful, with Robin and Marian finally getting together and an ending that always puts the biggest grin on my face (see above screenshot).  Plus, Much stopping the wedding is GOLD.

“Sisterhood”

Season 2 opener!  Most everyone has either a different haircut or a different outfit (or, in Djaq’s case, both) and this is where the whole series really comes together for me – Season 2 is practically perfect in every way and it was difficult not to include every episode of it on this list.  I mean, the previous season dealt with some interesting issues, but the story arcs (the Black Knights and the sheriff’s security plan, courtesy of Prince John) and the character arcs (Allan’s betrayal, Will and Djaq’s relationship, and the Robin/Marian/Guy triangle) are well-defined and believable.  The season gets started with this excellent episode, though Allan’s part in it makes me shake my head and yell “NO!” at him when he nips off to the tavern. *sigh*  Stories of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption have always hit home with me and Allan’s story, out of all the characters, makes me the saddest.

“The Angel of Death”

Why do I pick all the depressing episodes to put on this list?  Will is my favorite character in the series and this is the only ‘focus episode’ that he gets, so it would have to really, really good to live up to my expectations.  And it is.  I have to say that Harry Lloyd is a fantastic actor, because Will is normally in the background, quiet and observant (though he does get riled about the important things), and in the hands of a lesser actor, his transformation into a vengeful, unthinking killer might have seemed contrived.  But not so here.  Will is, quite frankly, terrifying in this episode with his stony determination to murder the sheriff, no matter the cost, and there are several moments in here that chill me (Robin being resigned to killing Will if it comes to that, for one) and, overall, it’s an intense story – one of the best of the series.  And it just made me love Will more because, in the end, he did The Right Thing. *fist-pump*

“Ducking and Diving”

*bangs head on the wall*  Why, Allan?  Why, why why?  You ended up getting Roger of Stoke killed and managed to rip a hole in the fabric of the gang.  Unbelievable… (as Much would say)  Anyway, this episode has tons of things going on in it: Matilda and Robin trying to keep that messenger guy from talking, Matilda’s daughter giving birth, and a traitor in the gang.  Whew.  Like I said earlier, stories of loyalty and betrayal have always struck a chord with me and this episode is no different. (By the way, even if I hadn’t known who the traitor was, I still would’ve guessed that it was Allan.  I mean, Much?  Littlejohn?  Will or Djaq?  Are you serious?)  This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, since so far I’ve basically catalogued every single moment this series has made me cry, but this episode makes me tear up.  Especially when Allan’s talking to Djaq about the traitor and his brother and…yeah, it’s pretty emotional.  So is his confrontation with Robin, for that matter – Allan is just setting himself up for a downward spiral that will eventually result in his death. *tears*

“Get Carter”

First of all, I want to say that Carter has one of the coolest outfits on the show.  Simple, but cool.  And his swords are cool, too. (Especially the way he wields them.)  That being said, though, I do have a slight problem with him: he wants to kill Robin Hood and he has the means to do so (courtesy of the sheriff).  So, yes, that’s a problem.  This is one of those neat ‘infiltrator episodes’ where you wonder if the gang will figure out what’s up before it’s too late.  There’s SO much juicy emotion in this episode, with Marian being new to the gang and life in the forest (I love the scene where she and Littlejohn talk) and basically everything about Carter.  He’s one of the best (if not the best) minor character in the show. (And he actually returns in “We Are Robin Hood”.  WOOT.) (Also, fun fact: Joseph Kennedy, who plays Carter, also played Will Scarlett in an episode of Doctor Who.  Weird, huh?)

“Lardner’s Ring”

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Robin and Marian get engaged!  For most fans, that’s the main reason this episode is a favorite, but there a lot of other great things in here, too.  Allan helping Will escape?  Yessssss.  That’s the Allan I know and love.  The scene where Much, Littlejohn, and Djaq work on phrasing the message that Lardner will carry usually makes me grin because that’s how I am about ninety percent of the time when I’m writing.  The Black Knights’ story arc continues and you really get to see the depth of Guy’s love for Marian here.  And then there’s Much’s great quote about ‘honey’.  Hehe.  But, of course, Robin and Marian’s relationship is at the core of this episode and it’s both beautiful and poignant and a little annoying at times, with their arguments and the fact that THEY WILL NEVER REALLY BE TOGETHER.  I don’t care what Marian says – I loved Robin’s proposal.  And then their good-bye in the tree…  I’m not making a lot of sense, am I?  Anyway, I really enjoy this episode.

“Walkabout”

SO many good things about this episode.  (I keep saying that, don’t I?)  The sheriff is hilarious, in an evil way (as usual) but I find most of his scenes to be a distraction from the real plot of the episode: Prince John’s men are on their way to burn Nottingham to the ground and to kill everyone in the town.  You can really sense Guy’s frustration, first at not being able to find the sheriff and then at Marian refusing to marry him and escape safely.  Allan and Will are BROTHERS IN ARMS again, which always puts a smile on my face.  “Let’s all pitch in and work the problem, even if we are enemies/antagonists” stories are the best, in my opinion, and this episode is definitely one of those.  Oh, and there’s that little moment where Robin entrusts Marian to Will. *sniffff*  And Guy came back!  I think that was his best moment in the whole series. (That, or when he pleaded for Meg’s life.)  I could watch this episode over and over just for the character dynamics.

“Treasure of the Nation”

One of my favorite episodes.:

Things are fast coming to a head, as evidenced by this episode.  I believe that by this point in the season, Carter has returned to the king and told him of the Black Knights, and Lardner has also reached the king, which is why Richard sends Robin the message (by way of the AWESOME Legrand) and gets him to take Queen Eleanor to safety.  Plus, there’s the whole thing with the Guy discovering the true identity of the Nightwatchman (all the scenes back at the castle are super tense, even now, when I’ve watched this episode three or four times).  I know I’ve basically said this about every episode thus far, but this one is incredibly well-crafted.  I’m still working though all the reasons why Guy let Marian off the hook – he’s probably the most complex character on the show, and I love that.

“A Good Day To Die” & “We Are Robin Hood” (again, a two-parter)

The problem with these episodes is that they’re so good.  If it was only fair or mediocre or whatever, they would be much easier to hate and much easier to avoid watching.  But there’s a bunch of good plot stuff (which I’ll get to in a minute) and it gets ruined by the last ten minutes of the finale, unfortunately…  For one, the whole Kalila thing, with everyone confessing something, something big and important and usually tear-jerking, like Will and Djaq’s love for each other (especially since they both believe they’ll be dead in a matter of hours), Littlejohn and his family, Much’s hurt feelings, and Robin’s PTSD.  I know that some fans think those scenes are out of character, but HELLO, they all think they’re going to die so why not spill some secrets?  And moving on from there, the other highlight in the first part is Allan’s return.  Go Allan!  And the battle with the mercenaries is neat.  AND I always gets chills when Robin says “I’m coming, my love”.  Feeeeeels.

Moving on to part two, I have to say that the switch in location from England to Acre is one of my favorite parts in this episode – it’s well done, different, and intriguingly exotic. (Bassam’s house is beautiful.)  I think they did an excellent job casting King Richard, who’s something of a jerk, both in the show and in real life. (My brother, Ezra, is studying British history in school right now and he often entertains us with tidbits about the Crusades and such.)  Also, this episode features the return of Carter! *fangirls all over the place*  If anything, he’s more epic here than he was in “Get Carter!” and I will never, ever forgive the writers of this show for not giving him some kind of death scene.  I guess they thought that with Marian dying, no one would really remember Carter, but I’ve found that he’s about the most popular minor character in the fandom.  So there, writers.  And speaking of Marian’s death…my heart breaks every time I think of it, especially since it happened in Season 1 as well.  It’s tearjerking in the extreme.  And the final “We are Robin Hood!” felt hollow (there was none of the joy and triumph of the Season 1 finale), especially considering Robin’s attitude in the next episode.

“Something Worth Fighting For” (Parts 1 & 2)

THE LAST ARROW. *cries for days*:

Yes, I’m skipping all of Season 3 and ending the post with the season finale.  Because even though the last few episodes – “A Dangerous Deal”, “Bad Blood”, and “The Enemy of My Enemy” – almost redeem the wretchedness that is every other episode, there’s still too much Kate and too much third season weirdness for me to get excited about any episodes other than the last two.  Again, even though the finale is gut-wrenching, these episodes are the closest Season 3 comes to re-capturing the spirit of Robin Hood.  The sheriff is the villain once again, everyone bands together to defend Nottingham, and the gang is very much at the forefront of the plot which is wonderful in some ways and tragic in others.  The new characters (new to Season 3, not these episodes in particular) do very well in their parts (except Kate, who shall forever be one of my least favorite fictional characters ever).  I’d forgotten how much of Archer’s screen time is him trying to kill/trap Robin, but he pulls a Han Solo and comes back to save the day and they managed to accomplish his character change in a remarkably short amount of time, and in a believable way.

There are way too many emotions in these two episodes and way too many deaths.  Allan’s is the one that gets to me the most, I think, because he died alone and friendless and believing that everyone thought he was a traitor.  I CAN’T EVEN.  But Robin’s is a close second.  I mean, I’ve stuck with these characters through the good times and bad for almost forty episodes, and now only Littlejohn and Much are left, of the original gang (I know Will and Djaq are still alive – hopefully – but they aren’t HERE).  The first time I watched the finale I was sobbing by the end, and it hasn’t got much better since. (Seeing Marian again after thirteen episodes of Kate was like a breath of fresh air, though.)  The series doesn’t even end on a high note!  Stupid King Richard got himself captured and nothing is going right. *sob*  I just wish that they’d kept more people alive and had some spark of hope (more than just “we are the spirit of Robin Hood and we’re going to keep fighting”) to end the series with.  It’s needlessly depressing, in my opinion.

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Depressing like the end of this post, I guess.  I really don’t have anything uplifting to say right now, except that I still love the show, the characters, and I’ll be watching some happier episodes from Season 2 if you need me.

NEVER FORGET THE OUTLAWS.

Eva

movie review: charade

(This post was written for the May The 4th Be With Audrey Hepburn Blogathon.)

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After Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) falls for the dashing Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) on a skiing holiday in the French Alps, she discovers upon her return to Paris that her husband has been murdered. Soon, she and Peter are giving chase to three of her late husband’s World War II cronies, Tex (James Coburn), Scobie (George Kennedy), and Gideon (Ned Glass), who are after a quarter of a million dollars the quartet stole while behind enemy lines. But why does Peter keep changing his name?
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I’ve seen Charade, oh, half a dozen times and it never gets old.  Even though the plot twists aren’t all that twisty anymore (though I do still notice one or two new things each re-watch) there’s some timeless movie magic in the film that makes it worth watching multiple times.  I came across Charade when I was making it a goal to watch every James Coburn movie in the house and it’s definitely in my top fifteen favorite movies now (if not top ten – still haven’t decided that one yet).

Over and over again, Charade has been called ‘the Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made’ (or variations of that phrase) and while I agree in part with that statement, I don’t think it’s entirely true.  For one, there’s much more humor in Charade than most Hitchcock films, so there’s a more lighthearted feel to the whole thing, and I’ve also found that all Hitchcock movies, whether they be famous or little-known, have a particular quality about them.  The Hitchcock stamp, if you will, and Charade doesn’t have that, of course.  But the twisting plot, enigmatic opening, clever camera angles, and the casting of Cary Grant are all similarities in the favor of a comparison.  And I’d say that Charade is just about as genius with the combination of cast, script, music, and visual style as any Hitchcock film.

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Anyway.  I didn’t come here to write an essay, but to review a film…and review it for an Audrey Hepburn blogathon, no less, so she’s who I’ll talk about next.  I’ve only seen four Hepburn films, I believe, and though this isn’t my favorite role of hers (that would be either Princess Ann or Sabrina) Charade is my favorite Hepburn movie, overall, so far.  Reggie seems a bit spoiled, at least at the beginning of the movie, and I also find that she’s a little annoying in her constant pursuit of Cary Grant’s character (honestly, I don’t know what to call him – he has about five names/identities through the course of the film).  However, I’d watch Audrey play any character, really.  She’s fantastic and I’m so pleased to part of the blogathon honoring her life and work. (Her birthday is today, incidentally.)  Overall, I don’t have much to say about the character of Reggie, except the fact that I did end up liking her by the end of the movie and that she’s a pretty sympathetic character in most respects. (I’d like to see how I would’ve reacted to her had she been played by any other actress.)

Okay, brace yourselves, because I’m about to discuss the rest of the cast and I have a rather shocking announcement to make.

Are you ready?

I don’t like Cary Grant.

Yes, you read that right.  Cary Grant, who everyone swoons over, who everyone thinks is the epitome of old Hollywood class and style and all that jazz…him, I don’t like. *ducks*  I’ve never thought he was particularly handsome or funny or anything, really.  I don’t dislike seeing him in movies like I do with some actors (*cough*RichardBurton&CharltonHeston*cough*) but he’s never impressed me.  I’ve never fangirled over him. *sigh*  I like him perfectly fine in Charade (and I do happen to really like him in Notorious) but that’s about it.  He does play an extremely interesting character, though – you can never be entirely sure of his identity, even up to the last minutes of the film. (It’s crazy.)

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Other cast members: I came to the this movie for James Coburn and he played a great villain.  Thoroughly enjoyed seeing him on-screen (though his attempt at a Texas accent was less than convincing).  The other three villains (counting, you know, the fifth member of the treasure hunters) were all well-played, too.  Other characters include Reggie’s best friend (and her little boy) and the police inspector.  Good casting all around.

One thing that really sells the movie for me is the music.  Henry Mancini did a fantastic job as usual (he might be my favorite composer, actually) capturing all the emotions and moods of the film, from wistfulness and longing, to high-spirited romance, fun, danger…his score is everything that a movie soundtrack should be.  If you don’t believe, well, go listen to this.  Just the main title theme alone is enough to put me in the mood of an exciting, suspenseful (and fun!) mystery.  And while I wouldn’t say that Bernard Hermann and Henry Mancini’s music is completely alike, Mancini definitely dictated the tone of the film – at least to some extent – the same way that Hermann did with so many Hitchcock movies.

Well, that’s about it.  I don’t want to say anything about the plot for fear of giving away something important.  Watch this movie with no spoilers, please.  You owe it to yourself, and that’s all I can say.  And just remember…nothing is as it seems.

Eva

my top ten favorite books of all time

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Do you have any idea how hard it was to compile this list?  I love books.  I LOVE BOOKS.  I have dozens and dozens of dearly loved titles on my shelves and sometimes I run my fingers over the spines, take out a random one and hug it, or sit back and admire all the colorful titles lined up in a row.  I don’t have to just read books in order for them to make me happy (though that’s a huge part of it).  By the very nature of a book being a book, my whole day can brighten considerably because books are near and dear friends of mine.  So picking just ten to feature in this post was enormously hard.  But I’ve managed to do so, and here is the list.

(I’ve linked to my review for each book whenever it’s applicable.)

// Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell //

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*insert starry-eyed emoji*  This book is the epitome of everything a book should be: interesting, exciting, emotional, engaging, chock-full of brilliant writing and richly-drawn characters.  There’s something about GWTW that captures me, heart and soul, even though I was leery of reading it at first (not the length, so much, but because I thought I’d waste a couple of weeks reading about a bratty Southern belle).  Picking a favorite book, the one that always goes on the top of every list is hard, until you actually read The Book.  And for me, GWTW is that book.

// Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand //

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Unbroken is certainly at the top of my ‘Favorite Nonfiction Books’ list and it deserves that place.  I originally found this book because of a friend’s recommendation (as so often happens) and though it’s a very hard read at times, I was drawn into the story (by way of Laura Hillenbrand’s intense writing skills) and ended up with tears on my face and a new hero to fangirl over.  There are SO many good things about this book, especially the fact that Louie came to know Christ by the end of it, though his whole story is amazing as well.  I really need to read it again…

// Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley //

Who would have thought that a YA novel that I picked up on a whim would prove to be such a steadfast favorite?  See, whenever I go to the library, I usually pick up two or three YA novels that I’ve never heard of before, just because.  No real reason.  But ever so often, I’ll find a gem like Violins of Autumn and that makes everything worthwhile, wading through all the stupid love triangles, ridiculous plots, and bad content that most YA book seem to have.  All the characters are dear friends (or fictional crushes) and the plot is straightforward, yet interesting (and intriguing).  And Amy McAuley’s writing style?  I love it!  She has such a way of putting things.

// The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery //

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BARNEYYYYYY.  Even though I still don’t like his name, he is one of the most swoonable fictional heroes in any classic romance novel ever.  He’s a gentleman and he does things and loves deeply (Valancy, of course, but I also like his relationship with Cissy) and, basically, he’s perfect.  But not in a boring way.  And Valancy is tops.  One of my favorite heroines ever.  Yes, the plot can be a little predictable (though, to be honest, I didn’t predict either of the twists concerning Who Barney Was when I first read it) but that doesn’t detract from the overall charmingness and beauty of this novel.  As always, L.M. Montgomery’s writing is golden and dreamy and ever so slightly sentimental. ❤

// A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens //

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Having recently read this (in fact, ATOTC is the book on this list that I’ve read the most recently) I’m still basking in the glow of what a great book, a truly great book, can do for a person.  It made me feel and think and cry and laugh and, oh, so many things.  Charles Dickens is an amazing author and this book is his best, in my humble opinion.

// To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee //

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Scout.  Atticus.  Jem.  Boo.  Dill.  Tom Robinson.  The grip these characters have over me (especially Atticus) is evidenced by the fact that I spent a good half hour crying in my room when the whole “Atticus is a bigoted racist!”, Go Set A Watchman debacle first came out. (And I was quite mournful for the rest of the day.)  Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But even though I hadn’t grown up, so to speak, on TKAM and it had been only a semi-recent discovery, Atticus was maybe the only fictional character that I put on par with real life people as being a great role model.  So, that was hard. (I got over it, though.)  But returning to the book itself, I have to say that when I first read it, I thought it boring (mainly because I expected the story to jump right into the trial) but upon further re-reads, my opinion has (obviously) changed.  If you haven’t read it…why not?

// The Victors by Jack Cavanaugh //

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Picking just one Jack Cavanaugh book to put on this list (since I didn’t want to have more than one book by any single author unless absolutely necessary) was almost as hard as compiling the list itself.  At first I thought I’d put down His Watchful Eye, book two in the Songs in the Night trilogy, but I realized that those three books need to be read together to get the full experience.  The Victors, however, though part of a series, is a stand-alone and since it’s set in WWII, I can’t help but be drawn to it.  There are several characters (the book is pretty long) and through their eyes, Jack Cavanaugh ends up covering several aspects of the war in unique ways: bomber pilots, USO entertainers, war correspondents, the French underground, and so much more.  Have I piqued your interest yet?  I hope so!

// The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins //

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Even though I’m still not sure whether I prefer the Hunger Games trilogy or the Underland Chronicles, I do think that the UC books work better when read together, and there’ll always be something about THG, especially the first book, that will always evoke a special feeling inside me.  But it only works if I let my mind forget everything – the hype, the fan theories, the crazy fangirls (of which I am not one), even the movies – and go back and read the series as though I’m coming at it for the first time.  And the beauty of it all is that the books allow me to do that.  Katniss’ viewpoint is in-the-moment and though I can’t say that I actually forget plot twists, I’m usually too caught up in the here and now to care about them until they happen. (Does that make sense?) Collins created an unforgettable world in this book, and I love returning to it again and again.

// Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card //

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Ender Wiggin is just…unbelievable.  I can’t say that I have a crush on him, because he goes from about six to twelve in the course of this book, but I feel for him and his crazy, mixed-up life and sometimes I find myself crying over things in Ender’s Game that aren’t really sad because his entire life is depressing.  Especially after he wins the war.  Anyway, I will read any book that has Ender in it, which is why I was so happy to pick up Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide at a used bookstore recently (now I just have to find Children of the Mind).  And even though he does get older in the later books, I don’t think I’ll ever fangirl over him – he’s just not that kind of character – though I do admire him.

// Shane by Jack Schaefer //

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The first part of this book (before all the trouble starts) reminds me of summery afternoons and that satisfied feeling when you finish a hard job and the smell of apple pie baking and everything warm and wonderful and beautiful.  And I want to hug all the characters.  And then the rest of the book is exciting, yes, and full of action, yes, but it’s also heartbreaking and heartwrenching and now I really want to hug all the characters.  And by the time it’s over, I have a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and I WASN’T SUPPOSED TO CARE THIS MUCH.  But I do.

Well, that’s my list.  Do you agree with my choices as being some of the best books ever written?  Disagree?  Do you spot any favorites on here?  Let me know!

Eva

P.S. Look for a list of my top ten favorite movies, coming soon(ish).