movie review: a quiet place

Related imageI don’t normally watch thrillers that border on horror but ‘A Quiet Place’ intrigued me and I’m glad I saw it.

Plot: the world has been invaded by aliens who are sensitive to sound.  Very sensitive.  The main characters (unnamed) are a small family who have to rely on each other more and more each day in this horrible new world.  In the film’s prologue, you see their youngest son killed when he (very stupidly) turns on a toy plane.  About a year later, the mom is pregnant, the dad is trying to protect everyone, the son suffers from PTSD, and the daughter is guilty (because she gave her brother the toy plane) and angry at herself and everyone around her.

(I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story because it’s best to watch without knowing Things.)

For me, stories rise and fall on the quality of their characters and ‘A Quiet Place’s characters were beautiful.  Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who play Mom and Dad) are married in real life and you can definitely sense that.  There’s such a strong, clear bond between them.  They love each other and their kids deeply.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is when they share a pair of ear buds and dance together to the music from an iPod (which is an almost frightening explosion of sound at first).

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Their oldest child, a deaf teenage girl (played by a talented deaf actress) is annoying.  I mean, I get that she’s guilty and lashing out at those closest to her, but can’t you see your dad loves you?  The second child, a boy who’s probably eleven or twelve, was very sweet.  I liked him.  He reminded me a bit of the kid in ‘Jurassic Park’.  And the scene where he and his sister are in the truck, cowering from the alien?  Soooo ‘Jurassic Park’ inspired.

YMMV when it comes to how scared you are while watching ‘A Quiet Place’.  For me, I don’t believe I was ever scared so much as disturbed in a few spots.  In some scenes, it’s pretty obvious that the characters will be okay so that didn’t worry me.  There’s one part where a raccoon gets, um, splatted by one of the aliens and that’s pretty gross.  A few jump scares, none of which made me jump.  That bit with the old man was gruesome (no spoilers, just…*shudder*).  And there was one scene where I did look away – not because of anything scary, but because a character steps on a nail and it goes right into their foot and I didn’t want to see that happen. (Also, there was a bit of burlap caught on the nail and now it’s in their foot and they’ll probably get infected.  Groan.)

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However, one thing I definitely didn’t expect from ‘A Quiet Place’ was how tear-jerking A Certain Part would be.  I’m actually getting a lump in my throat just thinking about because it involves self-sacrifice and a character death (duh) and it’s just…yeah.  It’s tough.  You’ll hate it and love it at the same time.

And can I get a round of applause for that ending?  It was a stellar, amazing, awe-inspiring, perfect, incredible ending. (I could continue to heap on the adjectives.)  It’s given the ending to ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ a serious run for its money for “Eva’s favorite movie ending of all time”.

Overall, ‘A Quiet Place’ was one of those movies that went above and beyond my expectations.  Recommended to just about anyone (no swearing or sexual content, for the win!) provided you’re thirteen or over.

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Eva

P.S. Just wanted to add that, while I thought much of the soundtrack was unnecessary (and unwanted), there was this one jarring, off-key piano theme that was used a couple times that I thought was GREAT.

P.P.S. Don’t ever make a sequel, Hollywood.  Just…don’t.

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book review: ‘fawkes’ by nadine brandes

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Thomas Fawkes, son of the famous (and soon to be infamous) Guy Fawkes, is turning to stone and there is nothing he can do to stop it. He might be able to control the Stone Plague if his father gave him a colour mask – which allows the wearer to control a specific colour or colours – but Guy Fawkes refuses to do so. Thomas journeys to London to find his father and persuade him to make the mask. But while Thomas finds his father, he also finds much more: a plot against King James I and all of Parliament. Will Thomas join the plotters or will he fight to find something more?

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Oh. My. Word.

THIS BOOK.

IT IS MY PRECIOUSSSSS.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Fawkes ever since I read Nadine’s Out of Time series and fell in love with Parvin, Solomon, and all the rest of the gang (yes, even Skelley). And, man, it did not disappoint.

So, Fawkes is set in 1600’s England, which is one of my favorite time eras (well, I tend to lump the 1400’s to 1600’s together, but anyway) and I love how Nadine kept stuff really historically accurate (as explained in the Author’s Note at the end) because with the fantasy element, she could’ve thrown accuracy to the wind and done whatever. But she didn’t and I LOVED that. (If it seems like I’m talking about Nadine very familiarly, it’s ’cause I’m one of her ninjas and I feel like we’re almost friends.) And speaking of the fantasy…I normally don’t like the genre, but it was so, so cool! The masks, the colour powers, the White Light, etc.; I dug it all.

My favorite part of Fawkes is indubitably the characters. I’ve read some reviews where people said that Thomas wasn’t the greatest protagonist, but I liked him throughout the whole book. He wasn’t perfect (and who wants to read about characters who are perfect?) but he went through this whole awesome journey where he asked questions and discovered the Truth for himself and learned from his mistakes and wrestled with the decisions he made and it was so real and human and relatable. Loooove.

Then there’s mah girl, Emma. She’s a super awesome fighter with plenty of skillz, while also being gracious and kind and warm and loving – basically, she’s not your typical tough, soulless Action Girl™ and I thought that was great. Plus, THAT PLOT TWIST WHEN SHE TOOK OFF HER MASK??? How did I not see that coming?! (I love it when books surprise me.)

Guy Fawkes rounds out the trio of main/main-ish characters and while I wasn’t sure how much I liked him throughout most of Fawkes, he completely redeemed himself in my eyes by the end. Many, many tears were shed. His relationship with Thomas was flawed and awkward at times and often frustrating, but it also worked on so many levels. And The Bad Guy was chilling, kind of epic, and totally creepy. Everything a good villain should be.

While the faith message wasn’t as strong in Fawkes as it was in the Out of Time series, I still loved and ‘got’ the allegory and all the themes Nadine wove into the story. Awesome.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of historical fiction (with a dash of romance), fantasy fiction, allegorical fiction…or simply anyone who loves a good story!

I was given a free copy of Fawkes from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Eva

book review: the girl’s guide to conquering life

Image result for the girl's guide to conquering lifeThis book reminded me of The Daring Book for Girls with its wealth of practical, hands-on advice.  To be honest, I didn’t read every single how-to from start to finish since I don’t have my driver’s license (hence, the chapter on cars wasn’t applicable) and I don’t play any sports (so same for the chapter on that subject).  However, I did skim those chapters and the advice looks really good and something I’ll definitely revisit when I need to know more about how to drive stick or throw a football.

As for the other chapters, the ones I actually read, I really enjoyed them!  There were some great tips and techniques in there.  I’m kinda glad the author put the chapter on Guys & Dating first because I probably would’ve skipped ahead to read it (*wink*).  I also enjoyed the Health & Beauty and Food & Cooking chapters – I knew a lot of the stuff already, but it’s always good to have a refresher, right?

Overall, I found The Girl’s Guide to Conquering Life to be a easy, helpful read that I’d recommend to girls of pretty much any age (but particularly 12 to 18 year olds).

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

Eva

book review: to save a race

To Save a Race

When Duke Callon divorces his wife and decides on an uncanny way of choosing his next duchess, Arianna’s left with little choice. Faced with the intricacies of politics, Arianna struggles to find her place. Just as she thinks she has her footing, a decree, issued with the blessing of her husband, calls for the extermination of her entire race. 

A young innocent girl, a capricious duke, and a decree that will change everything. What will it take to save a race? 

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Esther has always been one of the my favorite books in the Bible, so when I was offered the chance to read and review To Save a Race, a steampunk retelling of Esther, I was more than happy to do so.

WHAT I LIKED:

~The faithfulness of the retelling. Kandi J. Wyatt did an admirable job of placing the story of Esther into a steampunk setting and didn’t switch around story details as many retellings of fairytales and such do. Which is good because Esther isn’t a fairytale – the events in that book actually happened.

~Characterization was pretty solid, as was the writing. I’m not sure that Kenden added a lot to the story, but I still liked him. I was prepared to dislike Callon, but how he changed and grew and worked through his weaknesses and insecurities…I quite liked him by the end. Marcos was great, as any version of Mordecai should be.

~The writing was also well-done. To Save a Race was a quick, easy, enjoyable read because of that.

~I liked Callon and Arianna’s relationship. Believable, even though they got married so quickly.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

~The steampunk setting wasn’t too clear and aside from a few mentions of leather corsets, the use of gas instead of electricity, and hand-cranked car engines, there weren’t many details. Which was disappointing because I love the concept of steampunk and I wish I could’ve been immersed in the story world.

~Arianna was annoying at the beginning. She reminded me of Esther in ‘One Night With the King’ sometimes and that’s not the best thing.  Still, by the end of the book she’d grown as a character, which is what matters.

Overall, I had an enjoyable time reading To Save a Race and I’d recommend it to fans of retellings and clean Christian fiction.

Have you read To Save a Race?  Do you know of any other Biblical retellings?  I’d love to hear about them!

Eva

mini movie reviews {#8}

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) – Sweet and charming and heartwarming.  Not unlike young Timothy himself.  And Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a bit role. (I’m not a fan, but I know tons of people are, so…yeah.)

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The 300 Spartans (1962) – This movie scarred me as a child because THEY ALL DIED.  It’s still sad, but also a great and enjoyable piece of entertainment.  I think a part of me always wanted to be Ellas and have Leonidas as my uncle.

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The Trouble With Harry (1955) – Another Hitchcock film to check off my list!  This one wasn’t quite as good as some of his others, but it was still lots of [morbid] fun.

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House of Wax (1953) – Speaking of morbid…this one actually made me and my siblings laugh quite a bit because it’s so dramatic and serious and gory but not really.  Vincent Price is something else again and I’m not sure if I mean that in a complimentary way or not.

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TRON (1982) – I’m sorry, guys.  I just don’t understand why this is such a beloved classic.  I realize that the CGI was revolutionary in its time, but it made my mom nauseous and the plot is so boring.  (‘TRON: Legacy’ is still kind of boring, but at least it’s cool to look at.)  It was interesting to see Jeff Bridges as his younger self, since before ‘TRON’ I’d only ever seen him as an older guy.

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The Borrowers (1997) – Great for a one-time viewing, but I can’t see myself re-watching it any time soon.

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Chariots of Fire (1981) – After reading For the Glory, I was very interested in watching ‘Chariots of Fire’ again to see how accurate Ian Charleson’s portrayal of Liddell was.  It was pretty good, with just a few rough patches here and there – my favorite moment was the message he preached after that one race because it sounded just like what one of Liddell’s sermons would be. (See here for an awesome bit of trivia about said scene.)

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The Hurt Locker (2008) – Still not entirely sure what the point of the movie was, but Jeremy Renner was amazing.  Pretty bleak film, though, and one that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch again.

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Lilies of the Field (1963) – I still have that “Amen” song running through my head.  IT WON’T LEAVE.  This is a lovely little film that made me want to read the book it’s based on as well.

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Mr. Holmes (2015) – Ian McKellen is incredible.  To still be acting at his age and doing such a first-rate job of it.  This movie is a little forgettable, but his performance is not.

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Jumanji (1995) – Another childhood classic that I didn’t actual watch while a child.  Still, I liked it quite a bit.  The one thing that saved ‘Jumanji’ from being one of those ‘well, that was okay but I’ll probably never watch it again’ was the ending.  I really dug the ending.

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2005) – All style and no substance.

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Anna and the King (1999) – Before seeing this, I said “Whoever plays the king will never be able to come close to Yul Brynner” and I almost had to eat those words because Chow Yun-Fat did an excellent job.  Some people say that this movie is boring, but I didn’t find it so at all.  And I liked that Louis had a larger role than in ‘The King and I’ because Tom Felton. (I think I’m the only non-Harry Potter watching person who’s also a big Tom Felton fan.)

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Have you seen any of these films and, if so, do you agree with my opinion of them?  What movies have you watched lately?

Eva

movie review: sky high

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Man.  ‘Sky High’ is one of the very few cult classics where I actually understand why it’s a cult classic.  You’ve got a very fun premise, a story world that lends itself readily to expansion in fanfiction, and some great characters that you can endlessly ship and theorize about because there’s NOT ENOUGH OF THEM. (Like, there’s enough characters for the story.  But not enough information about those characters.)

Plot stuff: Will Stronghold is the son of two superheroes…but he doesn’t have any super powers, something that’s pretty embarrassing, especially when he starts attending Sky High, a superhero high school.  Typical high school drama + evil supervillain drama ensues, with Will learning Important Life Lessons along the way.  Kind of clichéd, but still very entertaining.

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There’s not much I can say about the music, cinematography, etc., because none of them really stand out as anything special.  And besides, what really made me enjoy ‘Sky High’ was the characters.

Will is the main character who goes from being a somewhat deceitful, insecure guy to someone who stands up for his friends and busts down the cliques at Sky High.  For a main character, he’s a bit bland, but still likable.  Then there’s Layla, Will’s best friend, who has nature/plant powers and is played by Danielle Panabaker (the irony and awesomeness are REAL).  I really like Layla.  She’s an independent, outspoken person who’s also really nice. (So, basically Caitlin Snow?  Kinda?)

One of my favorite characters is Warren Peace because his backstory is the coolest.  Seriously.  I want to know how his parents met and fell in love and got married. (Or are they married?  Like, what if they didn’t get married and Warren’s mom raised him and that’s how he got enrolled in Sky High.  See what I mean about the backstory?)  Also, with his fire powers and how he and Layla are (briefly) a sort of couple, it’s like Ronnie and Caitlin 2.0 – *all the heart eyes*. (Even though I don’t ship them.)

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(Will’s parents are super cool, by the way.  Especially by Disney parent standards.)

So, basically, if you like superheroes or teen high school dramedys, watch this movie!

Eva

mini book reviews {#4}

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White – I’ve read three books by White so far and they all share a commonality: it takes me a while to get into the story, but once I do…wow.  I didn’t want this one to end and I liked it even better than A Name Unknown.

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Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo, Darrell Scott, and Steve Rabey – After watching ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ so often, I wanted to read this book and it was wonderful.  Touching and challenging.  It also gives me great confidence in the movie because I was able to see just how many details they took right from Rachel’s journals.

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A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Just finished this one yesterday.  IT WAS SO GOOD.  Nadine Brandes is a genius at weaving her faith into her stories without it being jarring or heavy-handed.  I love this series.

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Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt – I often have trouble connecting with Hunt’s characters, though her writing style is incredible, but when I found myself very close to ugly sobbing by the end when a certain character died, I knew I’d connected this time.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – Beautifully written, but a hard read for somewhat obvious reasons.  I cried so much.

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Do Hard Things & Start Here by Brett and Alex Harris – I’ve had Do Hard Things on my shelf for years but I only read it a couple months ago.  WHY DIDN’T I READ IT SOONER? *is angry at younger self*  Anyway, it’s hugely inspiring and absolutely worth reading.  The follow up, Start Here, is almost as good and has lots of practical tips for implementing the ideas in DHT.

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Old Friends & New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton – A treat for Jane Austen fans.  It’s a little clunky and character-heavy, but once things settle down and Brinton finds her rhythm, it’s a good book.

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The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker – While I wouldn’t recommend the other two books in the Seer series, The Choosing stands well by itself (as far as I can remember) and the world-building/characterization is amazing.  Reminded me, in bleakness, of The Giver.  And the theological issues aren’t as prevalent in this one, so…yes.  Tentatively recommended.

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The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart – Good, but looooong.  I can’t really compare it to The Mysterious Benedict Society, since I haven’t read that in ages, but it was great.

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Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake – A light-hearted, entertaining western with fun characters.  AKA some of my favorite things all rolled into one.

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Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean – I don’t even like dogs but Orlean had me captivated right from the first page.

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First Date by Krista McGee – A frothy, forgettable read centered around the premise that POTUS’s son is going to chose a prom date on a Bachelor-esque reality show.  There were a few heartfelt moments, mostly centered around the main character’s deceased missionary parents, but I wasn’t too impressed overall.

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For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton – I partially rate the skill of a biographer on whether or not I cry at the subject’s death at the end (unless it’s someone like Hitler or someone who’s not dead yet).  Well, Hamilton had me in tears within the first five pages so take from that what you will.  For the Glory reminded me of Unbroken with its rich prose and great characters.  I watched ‘Chariots of Fire’ yesterday and had great fun pointing out all the inaccuracies (and the scenes/people that were accurate).  Now I’m looking forward to see Joseph Fiennes in ‘On Wings of Eagles’.

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What books have you read lately?

Eva