So far this year, I’ve watched 109 movies and read 64 books. The biggest problem I’m facing these days with my movie watching and book reading is that I haven’t found a WIN in the longest time. You know what I mean? The kind of book that makes you want to recommend it to everyone you meet, the kind of movie that you obsessively rewatch. And that hasn’t been happening. Almost every book and movie I’ve read/watched lately has been either good, okay, or meh. Or just plain bad. Definitely not great. Soooo…does anyone have any recommendations? While you’re thinking those over, let me share with you some of the stuff I’ve been perusing over the past three months…
Tartarus: Kingdom Wars II by Jack Cavanaugh – Woot! A Jack Cavanaugh book that I’d never read before, sitting right there on the thrift store bookshelf, just waiting for me to come along and grab it up. Seriously awesome. I don’t know what I was expecting from Tartarus since I don’t really like Christian supernatural fiction, but this was an epic read. (Unfortunately, it’s a sequel, so there were several tantalizing hints of what happened in the first book and it both intrigued and frustrated me.) The main character is half fallen angel, half human and this presents several unique problems, challenges, and questions along the way. All in all, a spellbinding, faith-filled read that I already feel like revisiting.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse – This was a book that I picked up on a whim at the library (because of the WWII connection) and it was an excellent read, all told, though it didn’t quite grip me the way other books in its genre (Code Name Verity, The Book Thief) have. The plot took several twists, ones that I didn’t see coming, and I think I’d have to re-read the book to truly understand everything that happened and all the reasoning behind it. Any book about WWII and/or the Holocaust will probably have me at least tearing up in a few places and Girl in the Blue Coat was no exception. It’s a good, solid read.
Dearest Ones by Rosemary Norwalk – One of the few nonfiction books I’ve read this year, Dearest Ones is an entertaining memoir of an American nurse’s adventures and adversities during WWII. It was a bit hard to get into, simply because I dislike reading books that are epistolary in nature, but Rosemary is a good writer and her letters were never boring. And the things she did! It’s been a couple months since I last read the book, so a good many things are getting fuzzy, but I do remember that she got to meet the British royal family (Princess Elizabeth, she said, was very pretty but her dress was awful). Which was so, so amazing to read about. Dearest Ones almost reads like a novel with its coherent story line, brave heroine, cheerful best friend, handsome hero, and plenty of anecdotes sprinkled throughout. Anyone who likes reading memoirs, books about WWII, or books about nurses will certainly love Dearest Ones.
Witness (1985) – Harrison Ford is awesome. I liked him in The Fugitive, Age of Adaline, and Ender’s Games. I loved him in the Indiana Jones series. And he was great in Witness. When my dad first told me the basic premise of the film, I knew I had to watch it as soon as possible. Because Harrison Ford, of course, but also because of the Amish element…I used to devour Amish fiction when I was a young teen *blushes* and I guess my interest has never completely worn off. It was a good movie, overall. Nerve-wracking at times, heart-warming at others. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mission: Impossible (1996) – When my siblings and I were little, we’d watch the old Mission: Impossible TV show all the time, sometimes every day. We only owned the fourth season, but we must have memorized each episode, the way we watched them all over and over again. I loved all the characters, the music, the intricate (albeit sometimes ridiculous) plots, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the movie. Boy, was I wrong. I think I had a grin on my face through most of it because it was so crazy and nostalgic and my liking for Tom Cruise is firmly established now. It was such a fun ride.
Citizen Kane (1941) – So, I finally got around to watching this. For some reason, I thought it was four hours long, or something, so when I discovered it was only two hours in length, I decided to give it a go. My verdict? It was a good movie, but I really don’t see why everyone makes such a fuss over it. (Am I just being an illiterate millennial?) There are tons of movies – most of them classics in their own right – that I like much better than Citizen Kane and, well, I just don’t get why it’s a big deal. I know lots and lots of scholars have given their opinion of this film and I probably won’t have anything to add, so I’ll just share with you my initial thoughts after I watched it (uninfluenced by anyone else’s analysis or opinion): I think the story of Citizen Kane is a tragedy. As the Bible so aptly puts it, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?“ (Mark 8:36) Kane may have gained much in material possessions, but he lost his family, his friends and, ultimately, his life. And Rosebud represents everything that he lost.
The Vikings (1958) – I’ve seen this before, at least a dozen times, but I felt like talking about. Because, GUYS, it’s so good. Cheesy in places and lots of bloody battles and all that, but it really is good. I watched The Vikings all the time as a kid and it’s stuck with me through the years. It has everything: a love triangle (Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh), brothers at odds with each other (while not knowing they’re brothers), a sweet romance, glorious cinematography, spectacular music, everything. Now, granted, you may not enjoy this movie much if swashbucklers and action films aren’t your thing, but if they are, give The Vikings a try. It’s tons of fun.
A lot of animated movies (most of them really good, but not fantastic like Big Hero 6 or Tangled or HTTYD) – Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Peanuts Movie (2015), Cars (2006), Rise of the Guardians (2012), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Good Dinosaur (2015), Hercules (1997), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and The Croods (2013). If you want to discuss any of these with me in the comments (to get more of my opinion/thoughts on them or whatever) that would be great, but it would take too much time to talk about them all right now.
Well, that’s about it. If you want to check out my IMDB movie list and my Goodreads list, feel free to do so and see a full run-down of all the movies I’ve seen/books I’ve read…not just the ones I talked about in this post. The comments are always open if you want to ask me something or share some of your favorites. I hope you do!