mini book review: i’d rather be reading

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I’ve always thought of myself as a voracious reader but after reading Anne Bogel’s essays on her love of reading, I confess to feeling a little inadequate.  Her passion for books is palpable on every page.  Some of the essays were a tad boring, maybe because I don’t know Bogal personally, but overall I’d Rather Be Reading was a delightful book that paid homage to the beauty of the written word.  Highly recommended to story lovers everywhere!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Eva

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book review: everything she didn’t say

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Everything She Didn’t Say details the travels and thoughts of Carrie Adell Strahorn, a real historical figure who is perhaps best known for her memoir 15,000 Miles by Stage.  Her memoir – and this novel – details how she and her husband, Robert, traveled the West while working for the railroad.  I really enjoyed the ‘real life’ feel of Everything She Didn’t Say, especially the excerpts from Dell’s memoir that were interspersed with fictional conversations and characterizations.  It’s definitely an intriguing concept that was done right.

The characters were a good blend of likable and realistic (read: ‘annoying’).  I liked seeing how Dell and Robert worked through the rough patches in their marriage.  Too often couples in Christian novels blow up over the smallest thing but the Strahorns were more realistic.  Of course, it helps that they were a real, historical couple who never got a divorce.

Everything She Didn’t Say was an excellent, well-written inspirational read but it did bore me at times.  But overall, this book is a great read for people who enjoy memoirs and well-written historical fiction.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Eva

mini-book review: hope your heart needs

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This sweet, tiny devotional is sure to find its way onto the shelves of every Christian bookstore.  In fifty-two short chapters, the author explores different names and titles of God/Jesus in a thoughtful, entertaining way.  I don’t normally read modern devotionals but while I occasionally found Hope Your Heart Needs to be lacking in depth, I still enjoyed Gerth’s insights.  She offered a few new thoughts on the character of God that I thought were excellent.  I know this book will prove uplifting to anyone who reads it.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for a quick read to boost their spirit and their faith in the One above all earthly powers.

I received a free copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Eva

movie review: little women

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Do all the things.

I don’t particularly enjoy Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but there are two film adaptions of the book that I adore.  ‘Little Women’ (1994)…and ‘Little Women’ (2018), which is the adaption I’m reviewing today.

Let’s start with the story!  Instead of trying to craft a recognizable plot out of a rather episodic book, the filmmakers went a different direction and told the story in a series of flashbacks.  (The framework for the flashbacks is Jo working on her fantasy novel with instruction from Professor ‘Freddie’ Bhaer.)  Most of the major events from the book are depicted in this film: Christmas without (m)any presents, Jo bumping into Laurie at a party, Meg making a fool of herself at another party (the prom this time), Amy burning Jo’s notebook, etc., etc. (I will say that Amy was a lot more justified in burning Jo’s notebook.  The situation was changed up a little and I Approve.)

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The feels were so, so real.  I teared up multiple times, especially with parts concerning Beth (no spoilers!) and the final scene which was #beautiful and #weddingdaygoals.

Now I’m sure most of you are wondering if the casting director got it right.  If Jo was the same strong, independent, flawed woman we all know and love.  If Beth warmed every heart with her sweetness.  If Laurie was a faithful friend.  The answer to all of that is “YES”.  I loved the casting for pretty much every character, but especially the four ‘little women’.  Sarah Davenport was outstanding as Jo.  She’s full of fire and fierce love and flaws.  And she is indubitably a Writer!  All the other films portray Jo’s writing as more of an unimportant, background hobby, but this adaption celebrated her journey as a writer.  And that made her so much more relatable to me.  For the first time, I actually, truly ‘got’ Jo. (And her connection to Beth was also so strong and I loved it.)

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This review is getting loooong, so I’ll just quickly run through the rest of the cast.  Beth was incredibly sweet, but also genuine.  Meg was perfect.  Amy (played, of course, by two different actresses) was annoying but had her moments of warmth.  Marmee was suitably Marmee-ish.  John Brooke was the only good portrayal of the character I’ve seen on film.  It took me a bit to warm up to Laurie (especially because they didn’t include the part where he sends for Marmee without waiting for permission which is my favorite character moment of his) but by the time he comforted Jo at The Funeral, I really liked him.

Overall, ‘Little Women’ is a beautiful film about the importance of family and the connection between sisters.  Highly recommended to fans of the original story.

Eva

Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.

mini movie reviews {#9}

Mudbound (2017) – Spectacularly depressing.  Gave me a headache.  But Garrett Hedlund was amazing so I don’t really regret watching it.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – YESSS.  So good.  Loved it and watched it twice and still loved it, so yeah.  The music was my favorite part, I think.  That or Jeff Goldblum.

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Wonder (2017) – Not quite as good as the book, but still thoroughly heartwarming.

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Goodbye Christoper Robin (2017) – Really heavy and a little boring.  I think I’ll enjoy ‘Christopher Robin’ much more.

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Unconditional (2012) – Actually one of the better Christian movies I’ve seen.  Great characters, good acting, and some pretty emotional scenes.

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Tarzan (1999) – One of my new favorite Disney movies!  Jane is awesome.

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A Monster Calls (2016) – Made me ugly sob.  A beautiful movie, though, and the Monster warmed my heart.

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Room (2015) – It’s rare that a film actually makes me bite my nails, but I’m pretty sure that ‘Room’ did.  My heart was pounding so hard.  The second half was a little boring, but overall a great film.

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Earth to Echo (2014) – This movie is a tribute to films like ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘E.T.’ and I really dug it.  All the characters were so sweet and small and perfect.

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – Some friends of mine HIGHLY recommended this movie to me so I watched it and, yeah, now I love it.  Which is weird because none of the characters are super likable, there’s no plot, and the humour isn’t even my kind of humour.  But there’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more. (Also, it’s one of the most quotable films everrrr.)

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Annie (2014) – Loooove.  Makes me so happy.

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Anna Karenina (2012) – I cannot get over the dresses and coats and hats in this film.  Incredibly, unbelievably gorgeous.  But that was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed in ‘Anna Karenina’.  (It was filmed a little oddly as well.)

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The Breakfast Club (1985) – Two words: JOHN. BENDER. *heart-eyes emoji*

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So what movies have you watched recently?  Have you seen any of the ones I reviewed above?

Eva

P.S. My bi-weekly excuse for no read-along post – my weekend was crazy busy with the birthday party sleepover I hosted.

movie review: God Bless The Broken Road

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This is one of the most beautiful movie posters I’ve ever seen.  No lie.

Amber’s ideal life is shattered when she loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan. Two years later, she finds herself in a struggle to save her home while providing for her 9-year-old daughter, Bree. When up-and-coming race car driver Cody Jackson rolls into town, Amber and Bree become wrapped up in his pedal to the metal way of life. With her faith hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well or trusting in a new path that God has provided.

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There seems to be a trend lately among Christian film: take a famous Christian song and make a movie based on that song (however tentatively).  The God’s Not Dead franchise, ‘I Can Only Imagine’ (2018), and now ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ (2018).

WHAT I LIKED

-The director, Harold Cronk, knows how to make a quality film in terms of camera work and lighting.  I dug the vintage aesthetic of this film.

-On a whole, the characters were pretty likable.  Amber was a sympathetic protagonist.  Her daughter, her friends from church, and Cody were all sweet.  My favorite character was probably Amber’s mother-in-law, though.  She could be controlling and manipulative, but in the end all she wanted to do was keep her family close.

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-I felt that Amber’s struggles to provide for herself and her daughter were accurately – and heartbreakingly – portrayed.  Those scenes were some of the best in the film.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

-It was just kinda…bland?  A little boring, too.  I found my interest straying through many of the scenes, which was disappointing.  But that’s basically my only complaint.  And for those who aren’t as nitpicky as I am, I think you could find ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ to be a hidden gem.

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Have you seen this film?  What’s your favorite faith-based movie?

Eva

Film has been provided courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

book review: dancing & doughnuts

Dancing and Doughnuts blog tour 2 (1)

Fifty dollars just for asking a few questions? Jedediah Jones figures it must be his lucky day. What dancing and doughnuts have to do with anything, he neither knows nor cares. He’s only interested in earning that money so he can finally eat something other than the apples he’s been living off for days. Once his stomach and his pockets are filled again, he plans to move on.

But answering the advertisement plunges him into a forest of painted trees, twelve pretty sisters, trouble, and more trouble. And, yes, doughnuts.

So many doughnuts.

Can Jedediah Jones solve the mystery and earn that fifty dollars when the whole town has failed? Or will the twelve sisters lose their family’s business no matter what he does?

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I dislike mysteries, but Dancing & Doughnuts was the rare exception. The plot – complete with a multitude of suspects, red herrings, and other forms of misdirection – was so clever and interesting that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. There’s a charm about this story that has to be savoured (like Rachel’s previous book, Cloaked, but even better).

The descriptions are so evocative! I want to stuff my face with those delicious doughnuts – crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, filled with sweetness and spice and covered in sugar. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them. Then there’s the apple cider and the lemon soda water…it all sounds so, so good.

Like Cloaked, Dancing & Doughnuts is chock-full of amazing, lovable characters. I know that the author loves reading books that include characters she’d like to be friends with and, as it turns out, she writes books like that too! It’s awesome. The main character/narrator, Jedediah Jones, has a fun way of looking at life, people, adverse situations, etc. but there’s also a depth to him that I like (he was a sergeant major during the Civil War and it’s affected him in more ways than one). All the Algonas are great. I especially like Alice, Clara, and Felicity. Alice is #goals and also #relatable, which is a great combination. Really, I like all the characters in this novella (with the possible exception of Mayor Gatz) – they’re all very real and and flawed, yet exceedingly pleasant and fun. ❤ I’d be more than happy to meet them in real life, if it were possible.

Dancing & Doughnuts is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale, ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’, and it was soooo cool to pick out the references and parallels to the original story (and I’m sure I didn’t catch them all). The painted forest sounds so beautiful! And actually having twelve ‘princesses’ instead of cutting the number down? A bit tricky, but the way Rachel did it was believable.

Highly recommended to fans of westerns, mysteries, fairytale retellings, or just a good story in general!

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Don’t forget to add Dancing & Doughnuts to your Goodreads shelf and buy the Kindle or paperback edition on Amazon! You can check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour here. Rachel is also hosting a super awesome giveaway for the book tour that you can enter here!

Dancing and Doughnuts Giveaway Prizes

Eva