Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Movie Review: Doctor Who The Movie

Doctor Who: The Movie 


Recommended for: Anyone who likes Doctor Who

Rating: NR

 The Doctor is returning to Gallifrey with the remains of his arch-nemesis the Master. Forced off course, the TARDIS arrives in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 1999, where the Doctor is critically wounded in a gangland gun battle. At the local hospital, Dr. Grace Holloway fights - and fails - to save his life.

 Later, in the morgue, the Doctor wakes up a new man. But he is not the only one - the Master has also found himself  a new body. As the clock counts down to the start of the new millennium, can the Doctor stop his oldest enemy from destroying all life on Earth?

 We wanted to wait to see it until after watching the Seventh Doctor. We're only on the Fifth Doctor, but since we won't have access to it soon, we watched it.

Technical: 4/5

 It came out in 1996, so the technology isn't great. It's a typical American 90's movie with the Doctor in it. In many ways it was just like another Doctor Who episode with the Master, but a little different because it was an American movie. To me the acting seemed well done, but I can't always tell. I was able to understand the movie about as well as anything else Doctor Who, and I liked how certain things were explained. There was one thing that got mentioned twice that I thought would be a bigger part of the movie but was never explained.

Setting: 5/5

 The movie is set in the near future (for when it came out) in San Francisco on New Year's Eve in 1999. I've never been to San Francisco, so I don't know how accurate it was, but it was done well. The TARDIS was very different from anything that I have seen, but it was very interesting. I haven't watched the Seventh Doctor yet, so I don't know if that's what his TARDIS looked liked.

Plot: 4/5

 The plot is very typical for Doctor Who. The Master is trying to destroy the Doctor and Earth. One thing that makes it different from the Master just trying to destroy the Doctor, is that the Master has used up all his regenerations and is trying to steal the Doctor's body. The Doctor regenerates. He knows that something has gone wrong but he doesn't even remember who he is. The main plot is just that the Doctor tries to save Earth, again.  

Characters: 5/5

 The main character is the Doctor. I don't know if Seven acted like he did in the TV show but he was very interesting. The Seventh Doctor isn't in it much but I enjoyed watching him as the Doctor. The Eighth Doctor was really good, I liked him immediately, though I have seen him in a 50th anniversary short. Some Doctors you can watch for several episodes and still not like very much, like Twelve and Four, but he was likeable at once.He has just regenerated, so he acts a little strange and childlike for the whole thing, but he is still funny and talks a lot. The Master is the same as usual, he tries to get whatever he wants and will kill anyone in his way. Grace Holloway takes the place of companion. Not surprisingly, she is a doctor. She was different from the other companions that I have seen but she was likeable. I would say that the characters were well done, especially the the small amount of time that they had.

 I really enjoyed it, even though it was different from the show (in a good way, it was just more American), I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Doctor Who and has watched the Classic episodes.

Friday, April 17, 2015

On a Bit of a Hiatus

Things are about to get rather crazy in our personal lives, so we won't be posting reviews much for awhile. We'll probably have a few sporadic posts, I'm just finishing Bleak House and we're planning to see Cinderella tomorrow, but when busyness happens, blogging is one of the first things to go. We should be back in full swing by mid June.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Reviews: Eye of the Oracle and Enoch's Ghost

Eye of the Oracle by Bryan Davis

Enoch's Ghost by Bryan Davis

Recommended For: Ages 13 to Adult

Rating: PG, probably

What ancient mysteries lurk behind the amazing stories in the Dragons in our Midst series? Eye of the Oracle takes the reader back in time to the days when dragons abounded. From the era just before Noah’s ark, through the battles between dragons and mankind in the time of King Arthur, and to the haunting presence of dragons in our day, this stunning prequel reveals the mysteries that led to the bestselling fantasy adventure that began with Raising Dragons. How did dragons survive the flood? Who helped preserve an ancient evil force that led to the dragons’ demise in the days of King Arthur? What heroic sacrifices kept that evil from exterminating the dragon race forever? If you enjoyed the heart-stopping action and spiritual depth of the first four books in this series, you won’t want to miss the astonishing story that began it all. Eye of the Oracle will captivate young and old alike, and it will challenge every reader to search deep within for answers to the mysteries in their own hearts.

Yes, two books. I read these books very close together almost two weeks ago and because it's been a crazy two weeks together with my grandma and her friend visiting, stuff happening with our house that is on the market, and having a word count contest with my sister, the two books have blended into one in my mind. Plus I have a headache and pollen is high. Thank goodness last week was spring break or I really would have gone crazy.

Bryan Davis's books are weird. A good weird, but still weird. These were no exception. No spoilers, but it contains the Lake of Fire. Just saying.

Writing: 5/5

The writing was really good. Lots of action, well done, no typos. Gah, I'm having trouble concentrating.

Setting: 5/5

Well, they're set in a variety of places. All of them are well-done. I liked the world before the flood, and the ark. All the places were very vibrant. You could feel like you were there.

Plot: 5/5

The pot of the first one was a But it was still really good. And I really liked the plot of the second book. It was really exciting.

Character Development: 5/5

Really good. I liked Sapphire Adi, and Morgana was a good villain. I loved Naamah and what happened with her in the second book. I really like Elam. And I'm glad Walter and Ashley were in the second book. I can't wait to read more about Bonnie and Billy.

I'm really glad I read these books and everyone else should as well. I can't wait to read the last two books I'm borrowing from a friend, although I'm a little scared because my friend said there are a lot of people that die and...stay dead. Not something Bryan Davis does very often in Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire. Anyways, I hope you got sense out of that review. Here's to another hectic week!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Bronze Bow

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Rating: PG

Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. –from the Song of David (2 Samuel 22:35) The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.
The Bronze Bow. My favorite fiction book about the times of Jesus, above Ben-Hur and The Silver Chalice. One of my three favorite historical fiction novels, all of which happen to be Newberies. I believe it was read to me multiple times and I have read it on my own several times as well. There was a day when I randomly picked up the book and flipped through it, realizing then that I had forgotten just how much I love it.

Daniel bar Jamin hates the Romans with a vengeance. It colors everything about him. He hates them for crucifying his father, the witnessing of which act is what caused his sister Leah to be possessed by a fear demon. Daniel is angry. And he is a part of a band of outlaws headed by a man named Rosh who robs travelers and plans someday to kick the Romans out of Israel. But things cannot remain as they are. Daniel's grandmother dies, forcing him to return home to take care of Leah. His friend Joel and Joel's sister Malthace (known as Thacia) reach out to him, re-familiarizing him with the Scriptures on which he turned his back so long ago. And there's a carpenter preaching to the people, healing them, to whom Daniel is encouraged to listen.

This book is well researched. The times and culture are so vividly portrayed and the history is clearly real. Elizabeth George Speare was a master storyteller, her two Newberies and one Newbery honor attest to that. Her characters are so real. Daniel has so much hate he struggles with, and he does struggle. His temper is real. Leah is so fearful, and there is so much tension caused by her demon possession. It is so hard to see progress made with her undone by a single incident. Joel is a devoted scholar and a good friend. Thacia is sweet and kind, even accepted by the timid Leah.

But this book is about more than the characters and Daniel's hatred of Romans. It's about Jesus. About getting to know Him. Loving your enemies. Forgiveness. Letting go of hatred. Learning to love.

It is a wonderful book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    "He trains my hands for war,
        so that my hands can bend a bow of bronze."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: The Robe

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

Recommended for: 12 and up

Rating: PG (violence and Roman culture)

A Roman soldier, Marcellus, wins Christ's robe as a gambling prize. He then sets forth on a quest to find the truth about the Nazarene's robe-a quest that reaches to the very roots and heart of Christianity and is set against the vividly limned background of ancient Rome. Here is a timeless story of adventure, faith, and romance, a tale of spiritual longing and ultimate redemption.

Several years ago, I saw the movie for this book. I liked the movie and then I found out that it was based off of a book. We had the book and I wanted to read it for school. I expected it to be very different from the movie and it is. The book is so much better and it is now one of my favorite books. 

Writing 5/5

When I first started reading this book, I expected it to start out with boring descriptions of the area and the weather. I was really surprised that it didn't. The whole book was very interesting and easy for me to follow. There weren't any long boring sections and there was a good balance of action and quieter parts.

Setting: 4/5

The book is set in during the ancient Roman empire, stating in the year that Jesus was crucified. The story covers about two years. The main places that the characters go are Rome, Gaza (Minoa), Jerusalem, Athens, Galilee, Capri, and Arpino. I rated it four out of five because it is not entirely historically accurate. Much of the story seems pretty accurate but not all of it. There was an author's note at the beginning of the edition that I read that said that it is a work of fiction, not a commentary on the acts of the Apostles.
Plot: 5/5

The main plot is what happens to Marcellus after he wins the robe of Jesus, but there were a couple other plots in the story. The book could be divided into three parts since there are about three different goals. It starts out building up to where Marcellus gets the robe, then Marcellus tries to find out more about Jesus. The rest of what happens follows from what he discovers.

Characters: 4.5/5
I loved the characters and how they change gradually throughout the  book. There are two main characters: tribune Marcellus Gallio, the son of a senator and his slave (and best friend) Demetrius. The book changes the point of view to whoever it needs to tell the story. Sometimes it is from the villains' point of view, but it starts out from Lucia, Marcellus' sister's point of view. One thing that seemed unrealistic was that one character went from thinking of a girl like a little sister to being in love with her in one day.

I loved this book and I wanted to keep reading it,which is pretty rare for me. I would recommend this book, especially if you like books such as Ben-Hur.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Creighton Hill Cover Reveal

My sister Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is releasing the first book of a fantasy trilogy sometime in June. She decided to release the cover on April 6 and roped me into participating. So as payback, I asked her three questions about the book, seen below.

Why did you decide to write Creighton Hill?
Mostly because I wanted to write a true fantasy. Fantasy is (most likely, I think) my favorite genre, but I hadn't really explored it yet. Also, the premise still intrigued me. Being a sort of mish mash of Narnia, Tuck Everlasting, and Return to Gone-Away with a bunch of other things thrown in, I really wanted to see how it would all pan out.

Will this tie in with any of your previous or coming books?
Technically, yes. The main Hubbards go to church with the Swann family, of which Peter, who helps them move, is a part. Peter’s baby sister Leah becomes good friends with Elsie Ferguson, who later babysits the Watsons of Across the Stars. Whether or not any of that connection enters into a publishable novel still remains to be seen.

Who is your favorite character to write in Creighton Hill?
Oh, you’re mean. Now, if you’d said all of Time Captives, that would be easy, but my favorites don’t really have a part in book one. Hmm. It would probably have to be Abigail. I really enjoyed discovering who she was and what her adventures in Calhortea were. Plus, I randomly decided to make her a violinist, like me. Funny thing, that random decision actually became a pretty important plot point.

The final cover is down below, but before I show you the cover of a book you probably aren't interested in yet (although you should be), I put the description of the book down below so you can get excited about it. Because you really should.

About the Book
“No one can mysteriously disappear leaving no trace. It isn’t realistic.”
“You’re right, Emily,” her grandfather said thoughtfully. “It isn’t realistic. However, a good many things happen in this world that are not realistic, things supernatural.”

Emily, Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna have grown up on their grandfather’s tales of ancestors who mysteriously disappeared from Creighton Hill, the plantation home that has been in their family for centuries. When Grampa’s death forces them to move into Creighton Hill, the truth about the supposed disappearances is the first thing on their minds. Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna’s, that is. As for Emily, why must they keep at their supernatural hogwash?

Could it be that their family really does just have an unusual history of early deaths? Most people seem to think so. But Grampa’s research has uncovered something different.

When mysterious writing matching descriptions found in ancient accounts begins appearing to the children, they know something’s up. They must find out what really happened to their ancestors, and work together to discover the reason behind the mysterious writings.

Creighton Hill is the first book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.

Aren't you excited now? Don't you want to read the book now? I have already read the multiple versions of Creighton Hill, so I'm not as excited about it as I have been for the release of her other books that hadn't had so many problems (which are all worked out now, thank goodness), but you should still be extremely excited, because you haven't read the book yet.

And without further ado, I give you...the cover!

Which also went through many versions. But this is (I hope) the final one. It really does look rather intriguing.

And the release date. Which you should want very badly by now.

Release Date
Creighton Hill, Time Captives book 1, will release on June 8th, 2015. Stay tuned on Morgan’s blog and Facebook page for more information and sneak peeks.

About the Author
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

And this is a link I'm supposed to put up. It has links to all the other blogs participating in the cover reveal on it.

In other words, my sister's new book is cool, although I've spent too much time around it (but not nearly as much as she has) and you should really go check it out. And I mean as in now.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Missing Series

The Missing by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Recommended for: ages 10 and up

Rating: PG (for violence)

  Thirteen-year-old Jonah has always known that he was adopted, and he's never thought it was a big deal. Then he and a neighbor, Chip, who finds out he's also adopted, begin receiving mysterious letters, saying things such as: "You are one of the missing," and, "Beware! They're coming back to get you."
 Jonah, Chip, and Jonah's little sister Katherine are plunged into a mystery that involves the FBI, a vast smuggling operation, an airplane that appeared out of nowhere; and people who seem to disappear and reappear at will...and make a staggering discovery. 

 This is a newer favorite and last year I did a review about Found, but I wanted to do a favorites review on the whole series.

 These books are a lot about time travel and some mysteries in history. Since last year I got into a show about time travel, it was easy to get into a book about it. The time travel is done very well, better than most time travel stories. In the first book, there is a lot of mystery as to what is going on. I already knew the premise of the series, so it wasn't all that mysterious. For the first couple of books I could get annoyed with Jonah for not knowing history, because I knew a little about the events that they experienced, until the fiction came in. Then when it came to the fifth and sixth books, there were parts of history that I knew nothing about. I enjoyed learning about the historical events in 5 and 6 and reading the Author's notes at the end, which tells what is fiction and what is real. Something that I also enjoyed in this series is how Jonah and his sister Katherine's relationship improves throughout the series. There are several twists in the series and, of course, as there is in almost all time travel story, messed up history.

 The seventh book was very different from the rest of the series and it is very confusing. It has a lot to do with paradoxes and messed up history and time collapsing. I enjoyed this book and it reveals something that you will want to know from the first book. One of the best things about this series is that the last book hasn't even come out yet. I look forward to reading it, especially because of how the last one ended.

 These books are pretty easy reads and I would recommend these books, especially if you are interested in some of the disappearances that happened in history.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Movie Review: The Robe

The Robe

Recommended for: 8 to Adult

Rating: NR

The first movie ever filmed in CinemaScope, THE ROBE ws nominated for five Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Richard Burton. Burton stars as Marcellus Galilo, the Roman centurian charged with overseeing the crucifixion. But when he wins Christ's robe in a gambling game at the foot of the cross, his life is forever changed. 
We first watched The Robe awhile back on a recommendation from friends, but last Friday watched it again because my sister is reading the book and wanted to re-watch the movie before it went off of Netflix. According to her, the book is way better, but The Robe is still a very good movie, and highly appropriate for this time of year. What might have happened to the Roman who won Jesus' robe at the crucifixion? How might the whole experience have affected him? That is what this movie and the book upon which it is based are about.

Technical: 4/5

Truly, technically speaking, this movie is about what can be expected from a 50s movie. There are instances where it is obvious they are acting in front of a backdrop, the "dark" scenes were clearly not actually filmed at night, and the acting was often stiffly overacted. However, for the time, it was a very well made movie, the first filmed in CinemaScope. The story is what makes it good.

Setting: 4.5/5

I'm not sure that every single element of the story was historically accurate, but it seemed pretty close. The things involving Palm Sunday and Jesus' crucifixion certainly seemed accurate. Rome and Israel were well portrayed, even on a 50s movie budget.

Plot: 5/5

Now, my sister would probably complain about the movie's plot. She said they constantly mixed up events and cut things out. Apparently in the book Marcellus's conversion was heavily influenced by witnessing Stephen's martyrdom, an event which was entirely omitted in the movie. Marcellus is required to crucify Jesus, but when he wins Jesus' robe, it practically destroys him. He seeks out the robe, thinking destroying it will cure him of his madness, but along the way truly discovers Christianity. It is a powerful story with an amazing but difficult ending, though from what my sister says it appears the book is even more powerful.

Character Development: 4/5

The characters are decently developed, though the movie, being like many old movies, doesn't go too deep into them. Marcellus has a wonderful character arc, as he comes to believe in Jesus and learns to stand for what he believes in. Demetrius is strong of character and devoted to God. Diana is sweet and willing to believe, but uncertain, and one of the best actors in the movie. Again, my sister makes it sound like the character development in the book is better, but when is the book not better?

The Robe is an excellent story well worth watching, perfect for the days leading up to Easter, and puts the book on my (rather extensive) to-read list.