November Book and Movie Thoughts


I’m going to share a few thoughts on the books and movies I’ve enjoyed this last month. Due to some down time in my husband’s teaching schedule, he had some time to play video games, which means I had time to read.

Blood Price and Blood Trail by Tanya Huff: I did not enjoy these two books as much as The Silvered, which was excellent. Huff is fun to read and I stay engaged in her books, but I get tired of the belief that sleeping around doesn’t affect your soul, and it had a now standard vampire-love-triangle. The two clever points that gave me a fit of giggles was the vampire who writes romance novels and is good at it, and the werewolf colony mistaken for a nudist family. Very funny. These are what I would consider a weekend read: they didn’t really grow me or feed my soul, but they were entertaining. One point, as a writer, drove me up the wall. She could not stay in her character’s Point of View and constantly switched in mid-paragraph leaving me scrambling to figure out who was thinking about whom.

Rated: R

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: I have loved Peter Pan from afar for most of my life. I loved the Disney cartoon, the short-lived TV cartoon, and Hook. I always felt like my own childhood slipped too quickly through my fingers giving me a strong emotional connection with always being a child and never growing up. The book was beautiful, sweet, tragic, scary, and melancholy. It truly captured the magic of being a child and the edge of selfishness children have. Barrie never painted Peter Pan as safe, for he is much too self-focused to be safe. This is a book I plan on enjoying again!

Rated: G (Just don’t read about Barrie’s life in general. You have been warned.)

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Conner: I’m going to admit that this is the type of book that’s lost on me—too intellectual. It’s supposed to be a spiritual comic, but I never laughed once and found it disturbing. My Dad asked me if I thought it more King or Koontz, and by far King. Koontz always has a happy ending. Because of the cleverness of O’Conner, I had to go read some articles about the point of the story which did help. I recommend reading them before you read the book. You do need to know she is a Roman Catholic and she considers the ending redemptive, which creeps me out even more. It was a good read, just not enjoyable.

Rated: R

The Shorter Catechism for Study Classes, Vol. 1 by G.I. Williamson: A very easy to read, straight-forward explanation of the questions and answers in the Catechism. It is Presbyterian, so Baptist will need to do a little bit of filtering. The short article presentation is useful for personal or family study.

Rated: G

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman: This is a collection of short stories from the mind of Neil Gaiman. All of them are clever and interesting, though I did find that he tended to be less ‘clean’ in his short stories than he is in his full-length novel. He had one very disturbing story dealing with the problem of Susan not returning to Narnia. It was so awful. I almost wished I hadn’t read it, but after giving it some thought, I realized that Susan doesn’t ring true to many people. For me, it’s that once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia. For Gaiman, as a non-Christian, it’s Aslan and the White Witch trapping the children so they could eat them. It’s always interesting to get a peek at what an unbeliever thinks about something Christian. I just wish it’d been a cleaner peek.

Rated: R

Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner: One of the best books I’ve read for women, Fierce Women is about a woman who destroyed her marriage. The Lord broke her down and showed her she was unsubmissive and fierce in a bad way. This is a must read for any woman on how to be a soft warrior. It is very pointed. Wagner doesn’t pull any punches. A strong woman can tear their husband down, or use their strength to build him up. This is an honest, real, and helpful book. Wagner doesn’t only give a list of things strong women do that are wrong, she shows how we can exchange those traits with the fruit of the Spirit.

Rated: PG-13

The Pastor’s Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand: What a book! While I don’t agree doctrinally with everything in this book, it was still an amazing story about Christ preserving and using his people in the worst of circumstances. This would be a great book to read in high school while studying the rise of communism. She is honest about how full of lies that form of government becomes when it gains a foothold. Through all their trials in Romania, they kept waiting for America to come rescue them, while most Americans didn’t know anything about what was going on. It made me wish we had gone and rescued them, but then I remember that it is about how Christ is moving, not the might of this nation.

Rated: PG-13

Prometheus: We finally got around to watching this movie. It was good, but not great. They had never obviously watched an Alien movie because they kept doing stupid things. It made me want to watch Aliens again, which I did. The God element—searching for their creature without losing faith in God—makes for interesting dinner conversation.

Rated: R

Terminator 1 & 2: I had an exhausted day and needed a break, so I plugged in these two old favorites and wasn’t disappointed. Other than a few cheesy 80’s elements, these are still great movies. The story is clever and unique, the characters are great—yes, I love Sarah Conner. When I watch them, I see the effect they’ve had on my storytelling over the years. I think this might be where I got my love of generational stories.

Rated: R

Aliens: This is one of my top favorite cheesy action flicks. I have happy and silly family memories wrapped around it and have seen it more times than I can count. What struck me this watching was how great Ripley and Hicks are. Ripley is a strong women but not unfeminine. Her strength isn’t forced by surrounding her with weak and stupid men. They didn’t have to down play the men in the movie to make Ripley seem stronger. I love that. I love that Ripley and Hicks can stand shoulder to shoulder. I love that it is her maternal instinct that gives her the power she needs to take out the aliens. Great flick.

Rated: R

Jack the Giant Slayer: This movie was surprisingly cute, fun, and enjoyable. It’s along the same lines as many fantasy movies which graced the silver screen in the 80’s and 90’s like The Neverending Story and Krul. We both enjoyed it very much. A great kid’s movie and family movie. I did love the part when the Princess says being a princess is such a useless thing, and Jack reminds her that she has the chance and power to change the world. This is perfect for helping your daughters see that being a woman isn’t a useless thing: the hand that rocks the cradles rules the world.

Rated: PG-13 (I think this rating is for some epic deaths by giants and squashings.)


Lots of good books and movies here with a few duds thrown in on the side. I hope it’s been helpful. Feel free to ask any questions about the ratings. Have you read, watched, or played any of these? What did you think?

Books, Movies, Thoughts

Since I decided to change this to a once a month feature instead of twice a month, different formats have come to mind. I could write one review about one movie or book I really enjoyed, or I could do mini reviews of everything that I’ve been reading and watching. For now, this seems more appealing. Enjoy:



The Lost, a Search for Six in Six Million

By Daniel Mendelsohn

This book was one of those captivating non-fiction reads that reads more like a novel than a true store. Daniel takes you with him on his search for his uncle, aunt, and four cousins murdered in the Holocaust. He travels the world desperately trying to speak with someone who knew them before the last few Jews from their small town pass away taking their history with them. The book was riveting. Two side notes: 1) I’ve never read anyone since John Owen with so many run on sentences. As a fast reader, I could not read this book fast. Some of his sentences where the length of the whole paragraph with so many clauses I had to reread them multiple times to sort through what he was talking about. I was able to read faster after I grew accustom to his style. 2) This book gave me very clear insight, for the first time in my life, about where the Jews and the Christians separate on theology in the Old Testament. The level of humanism brought to their theology surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have. Over all, an amazing book.

Rated R: Due to the difficult nature of what was done to the Jews during the Holocaust.

Stepping Heavenward

By Elizabeth Prentiss

I read this for my personal devotional this last spring. At the beginning, I found it very hard to stay interested in. Reading the thoughts of a self-focused teen, even one from back in the 1800’s, isn’t high on my list of fun things to do. Push through. If you will read to the end you will find the story of a girl who becomes a woman, a sinner who becomes a saint. Watching her go from whining about everything to loving all those who are difficult in her life was very encouraging. The two things I noted about this book: 1) While the overall book was very encouraging spiritually, I did find in interesting to see the seeds of Christian American Individualism. The focus very often is on the personal prayer and bible study while the church is rarely mentioned. 2)I found it very convicting, upon one scene in the book, to realize I didn’t bring my daily tasks before the Lord in prayer and ask for his wisdom in managing them and that he be glorified in them. This is something I now try to do every morning. This is a good book for women of all ages.

Rated PG: Due to the lack of focus on the church and the high focus on emotionalism, so parents may wish to guide their children more closely.

The Silvered

By Tanya Huff

Given to me by a dear friend, The Silvered had me glued from about ten pages in to the very end. The Silvered is a steam-punk-esque fantasy with werewolves, mages, technology, torture, kidnapping, and lots of other fun things. The story switches through the point of views of several main characters giving the reader a full-orbed sense of what is going on. This was a very fun read with a well-paced plot, fun characters, and just enough spine-tingling horror, to keep me sneaking a page here and a page there throughout my day. I even managed to make me feel like I was walking in two different worlds for a time: this one, and the oh-my-what’s-going-on-with-my-pack! one. I like it when a book does that. I enjoyed the very sensible nature of the female characters. They were a good balance of emotion and mind. I enjoyed the way Huff handled werewolves far more than most fantasies I’ve read. Most of all, I loved how you realize as you go along that the lead female is important. It’s very nicely played as opposed to shoved in your face. My only two minor issues were her well, obvious homosexual leanings, which where overall minor, and I wish Huff had given us just a little more description about the world.

Rated R: While the book does a very good job of keeping objectionable things mostly behind closed doors, there is one very dark scene and a few sexual inferences.



Now this was a film. Switching from my normal fare of cheesy action flicks that are perfect for a tired Saturday date night, I rented Prisoners. This movie had me on the edge of my seat from the opening moments. The acting was brilliant. Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing. Everything seemed accurate from what I could tell on the police work side, with the police not painted as idiots for once. The story is about two little girls who are kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day, but the real story is how their fathers react to their kidnapping and how the detective in charge, Gyllenhaal, reacts to them while still trying to save their daughters. Even with an unexpected twist the solving of the case doesn’t ruin the re-watchability of the film. In fact, as soon as you realize what is going on you want to start the movie over and see what clues you missed the first time through. While this isn’t a relaxing film, it is a great film. This is a movie I would buy.

Rated R: for child abuse, kidnapping, torture, language, violence.


To be honest, I’m pretty burned out on remakes. I wish directors would make their own cool movies instead of digging back through my childhood and teen years to steal ideas. Overall Robocop wasn’t bad. It was less violent and gory than the first Robocop, but it also lacked something. My husband really enjoyed it, but we both agreed on two things: 1) Too much story for one movie. Robocop had three main plots that didn’t all weave together perfectly creating a lack of focus and a false ending which was ultimately unfulfilling. 2) Due to too much story for one movie, the ultimate story—man vs. machine—lacked struggle. Oh, Robocop struggled, yes. But not in a way that gripped the viewer. It just lacked heart.

Rated PG-13: Violence, language, intense scenes.

3 Days to Kill

Now, back to the cheesy action flicks. 3 Days to Kill takes us along for the last ride of a retiring CIA agent as he finishes his last case while trying to reconnect with his wife and daughter. The movie was fun, well executed, and a great daddy-daughter type movie. Kevin Costner does a great job as the CIA agent/struggling father. Because they were able to secure some decent actors, like Costner, the movie retained a ring of realism and heart without just being cheese with a little cheese on the side. Overall there’s not much to say about this film other than it was fun, touching, and cute: the perfect movie after a long week. If you enjoyed Transporter, you’ll probably enjoy this film.

Rated PG 13: other than the violence, a few mild torture scenes, some language, there is only one inappropriate scene.

Downton Abbey (Season 4)

I was really not sure about watching anymore Downton after they killed Matthew off in Season 3. I just couldn’t imagine the house, the characters, and the story without him. But, my sister told me I should give it a try, and here we are. I loved it. It was a slower moving season with less over the top drama and more subtle drama. I felt like they gave Matthew’s death his due without wallowing in it. Mary and Isobel do a wonderful job showing the effects of losing a husband and son. My favorite point in the show is when Mary, Branson, and Isobel are in the nursery together sharing what they’ve lost. Laughing and crying at the same time. Anna and Bates are put through some very trying times. Bates is such a good man. When the curtain closed on this season, I found myself excited for what next season will bring. Mrs. Hughes is still one of my favorite characters alongside Maggie Smith of course.

Rated PG 13: Lots of fun topics for parents to discuss! 😉

This has been my life in stories for the last few weeks. If you’ve read or watched any of these books or movies, I’d love to know what you think! You can also follow me on Good Reads