april, may, june 2016: what I’ve been reading & watching

Me throughout The Scorch Trials.:

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 CavanaughWoot!  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 HesseThis 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.

Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, and Kirk Douglas. The Vikings (1958).  1 200×956 пикс:

Definitely not a scene from the movie, but I love this promo picture.

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!




24 thoughts on “april, may, june 2016: what I’ve been reading & watching

    • In my opinion, Casablanca is a far better movie. As is Gone With The Wind.

      Historical fiction is my one true love (especially stories set in WWII), and I also enjoy clean contemporary fiction (YA, mostly) and well-written children’s fiction. And I’m game for almost any classic, provided that it’s free of heavy swearing and adult scenes (no D.H. Lawrence for me, thank you).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I saw Citizen Kane in film class way back in college, and all I came away with was, huh? Don’t get why it’s so huge. So it’s not just a millennial thing. I always figured it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

    The Vikings, on the other hand, LOL. I love that movie so much.


  2. For animated movies, have you watched Epic? I thought it a little better than Rise of the Guardians. Or Zootopia (it was cute, but not wowing).
    I enjoyed the 1934 Little Men. Of course it was much too short, but Nat and Dan’s stories were fairly accurate and I just love Dan. After watching I decided to re-read all three books.
    For Middle Grade fiction, have you read The Penderwicks? Jessica Day George books? A Pocket Full of Murder? A Snicker of Magic? N.D Wilson’s books? My sisters and I loved these. If you want weightier classices, try George Eliot.
    We haven’t been watching much new stuff (we usually don’t anyway), just re-watching Hogan’s Heroes. We also have re-read and read a TON of L.M.Montgomery.


    • Yes, I’ve seen Epic several times and I really enjoy it – Ronin is the BEST. ❤ (I really want to see Zootopia too.)

      Little Men is one of my favorite books (because DAN) and I thiiiink that that version is available for free on Youtube, so I'll have to check it out! Of all the books you mentioned, the only ones I've read are The Penderwicks series, though I have heard of some of the other titles. Thanks for your suggestions. 🙂


    • Amish fiction has been around for ages…the first few books were good (the ones written by Beverly Lewis) but then everything went downhill from there since everyone started writing them. 😛

      Oh, I didn’t actively dislike Citizen Kane – I actually thought it was a good movie – but I just don’t get why it’s so big.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You should really try “Echo,” by Pam Munoz Ryan–it’s set during the Great Depression/World War II and it is sooooooooooooooooooo GOOD. I just read it a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. One of the most brilliant novels I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s kinda hard to explain what the story’s about; but I wrote a review on Goodreads which I hope clarifies things . . . Anyway, it’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it.

    I also watched “Ant-Man” a few weeks ago. Great Marvel movie. It’s not quiiiiiiiiiiiiiite as clean as the Captain America movies but it’s still fairly clean, and they did an awesome job with the story.


    • I’ll have to see if my library has Echo (it’s not very big, so I doubt it, but I can still check, right?). It sounds fantastic!

      My family subscribes to a movie filtering website, so the language wouldn’t be a problem…I really want to see Ant-Man, as I’ve heard it’s pretty funny. 🙂


  4. Amish fiction, ugh shOOT ME. 😛 But srsly Harrison Ford as an Amish dude??? I AM ALL IN. And I’m so glad you liked Mission: Impossible. My favorite’s #3!

    I’m in a reading slump, too! 😦 Partially because I have SO LITTLE TIME TO READ, what with my school and all, but I’m writing more, so I guess it’s all good…? As far as TV shows/movies go, I just started Friends and Gilmore Girls and LOVE them. Also, if you haven’t seen Leap Year or You’ve Got Mail, I totally recommend them. Favorite rom-coms ever!


    • Ah, you reeeeally need to watch Witness, then. It’s great. (And Harrison Ford is the BEST.)

      I’m reading ‘Auggie & Me’ right now, which is a collection of short stories based off of Wonder and it’s really, really good (even though I haven’t read Wonder for so long). The Julian Chapter made me cry. :*)


      • I definitely will! 🙂

        Awww yessssss. The Julian Chapter made me SOB. And it just proves that you really don’t know what people are going through. Doesn’t give him an excuse to be such a jerk to Auggie, but it does make us understand where he’s coming from a little more. 🙂


      • Julian’s story made me think of one of my all-time favorite quotes – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It’s one of those inspirational quotes that you find everywhere, but one of my favorite authors (Wendy Mass) used it to great effect in her book, The Candymakers, so I love it now.


  5. My whole family watched Citizen Kane for the first time awhile ago and we did not like it at all. My dad and mom including. So it’s certainly not a millennial thing! 😉 I found it so depressing and pointless and I include it on that list of “movies I never should have wasted my time watching”. 😛


  6. WITNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man oh man oh man, I love that movie.

    I need to give Citizen Kane another view because um, well… Joseph Cotten and Alan Ladd are in it, and the only time I watched that was before I cared about them. But my first impression was also, “What’s all the fuss about?”

    Recommendations, huh? Whispering Smith cuz I know you’ve been holding it in your hot little hands, though it’s not a WOW movie for me — but it’s really fun. Alan Ladd’s version of The Great Gatsby is a WOW movie for me right now, though.

    I’m reading Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart right now, and it has my by the throat. And it’s remarkably clean thus far! I’ve got about 150 pages left, but so far, it’s a WOW. So I’m having a pretty good run right now.


    • I know. 😉

      Wait. Alan Ladd is in Citizen Kane??? Who does he play? (For the record, I really like Joseph Cotten, so I probably liked the film more than I would have if he hadn’t been in it.)

      Um, I’ve actually already watched Whispering Smith. Crammed it into my schedule last afternoon because I so wanted to see it (and I had time). And I liked it! I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the best westerns I’ve ever seen, but it was good and solid and I think I’m developing a serious crush on Alan Ladd. 😉 Next on my list is And Now Tomorrow. And I borrowed The Great Gatsby (the book) from the library with the intention of asking Mom if I could read it and if she’s says yes, I’ll definitely hunt down the version he’s in. 🙂


      • Um, yes, well, uh… dear Alan plays a reporter who is kind of in the background during a scene or two in Citizen Kane. I haven’t rewatched it to find him yet, but I’ve read that he’s easy to spot if you know him, especially because he’s smoking a pipe.

        One of the reasons CK is such a big deal is because of some of the filming techniques used in it, which were innovative at the time. Things like showing the ceilings in rooms (and thus shooting in real places and not on soundstages), the lighting techniques, stuff like that. And of course, at the time, it was a huge deal because it was a thinly veiled expose of powerful newspaperman William Randolph Hearst. It would be like, today, if someone made a film about Bill Gates that portrayed him as foolish, corrupted, full of humbuggery. Hearst tried to get the film banned, etc etc.

        And Now Tomorrow is so so so so good. I can’t wait for you to see it! Not at all the sort of movie I usually like — quite melodramatic, really. But Alan’s all ascerbic and sharp-edged and full of bristles, and he pops the melodrama full of holes quite a few times.

        I reviewed The Great Gatsby here a couple of years ago — the book, I mean, if you’re curious about content and so on. Just watched Ladd’s version a second time last week, so hope to have a review up of it soonishly.


      • Well, then, I’ll have to be on the lookout for him next time. 🙂

        Mom said she doesn’t want me reading TGG right now, so I guess I’ll have to wait until I’m older – and then watch the movie adaption as well.


  7. One book I always recommend is Enemy Brothers by Constance Savory. It’s been one of my top books ever since I read it a good 10+ years ago. It’s set in WWII England. She wrote another book that’s been reprinted, The Reb and the Redcoats that’s set in England during the Revolutionary war, also excellent.


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