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.
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.
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