Thursday, February 26, 2015

Movie Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Recommended for: Ages 13 and up

Rating: PG-13 ( for epic battle sequences and some scary images)

With the help of a courageous fellowship of friends and allies, Frodo embarks on a perilous mission to destroy the legendary One Ring. Hunting Frodo are servants of the Dark Lord, Sauron, the Ring's evil creator. If Sauron reclaims the Ring, Middle-earth is doomed.  

This movie is probably my favorite movie and so after watching it again, I am happy to be the one to write a review on it.

Technical: 4/5

The main problem that I have with the technical aspects is that there are some parts of the movie that you can tell that the actors aren't really there. It isn't a big deal and I had watched it several times before I really noticed it.The amazing part of these movies is that they make regular sized people appear to be three-feet tall when standing next to Gandalf and the men and elves. Throughout the movie the characters get progressively dirty. I was also excited to notice for the first time that the stone trolls were in the background of one scene. The acting was also very good and the characters' emotions were believable.

Setting: 5/5

The setting is very good and a good portrayal of the scenes from the book. Some of my favorite settings are the Shire, the Great River (the Anduin), and Amon Hen. I love that at Amon Hen there are some ruins, though mostly just statues that are broken. At the council of Elrond you can tell that it is fall. All of the elves' homes have a certain look that make them similar but different. There are also the mines of Moria, which were done well as an old dwarf mine.

Plot: 5/5

The first half of this movie sets up the story and is the start of Frodo's journey. The plot can be hard to follow and if you haven't read the books it can be a little confusing, (I had someone to explain things to me the first time). The movie starts out with the story of the Ring and there are some other explanations throughout the movie. What the Ring actually does is never explained in the books or the movies and all you know is that it is evil, it corrupts people, gives them unnatural long life, and it turns people invisible when they put it on. Some of the humor in the books were cut out probably to keep the story serious.

Characters: 5/5

I love these characters (the good ones) and I think that many of them were portrayed accurately, although I like Frodo better in the movies. Merry and Pippin are the funny characters. Boromir is more likeable in the movie than in the books but he has the same faults. Sam is loyal. The other members of the fellowship were also done well. The black riders were scary the first time and I think that they were done very well. The orcs are also creepy and Saruman is a great villain.

I love this movie and I would recommend it to people who love fantasy and people who have read the books.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: The King's Scrolls

The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight


Recommended for: Ages 12 to Adult

Rating PG-13 (violence, injuries, and dangerous situations)

Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?

Available on Amazon!

Buy Now
 

Remember back to last year when I said how amazing Resistance was? I still hold to all that, but you know what? It pales in comparison to the awesomeness of The King's Scrolls. Seriously, every book I've read by Jaye/Molly has been better than her previous book. And with Ilyon Chronicles...well, I think C. S. Lewis may have ceded first place. I can't recommend Ilyon highly enough. In case you were wondering, I am still a beta reader, but that has nothing to do with my being a part of this small but wonderful fandom. (And, yes, we do claim fandom status.)

Writing: 5/5

TKS is just as well written as Resistance. Jaye really gives the reader insight into the characters' thoughts. This book is a lot more emotionally painful than the last one (warning, if you cry over books, have a box of tissues ready), and she does an extremely good job of showing it to the reader. I've only cried over one book, and I've now read this one three times, and I was still on the verge of tears multiple times while reading it. I like the pacing. It's not zoom through the plot like my books are (I'm working hard to fix that), nor does it drag like (I'm sorry) Lord Of The Rings sometimes does. It's terrific. And even though the one I just read was an ARC, it was already free of typos. At least I didn't notice any, and they usually stick out to me.

Setting: 5/5

Arcacia is the same Arcacia it was before...only Daican is taking things further. The events of Resistance have made things even more dangerous for followers of Elôm. We get to see a little more of Ilyon in this book, mining towns where some new characters are introduced. Also, cretes are introduced in this book, which means the introduction of a new culture. It's certainly very different. I hope some of the characters someday get to go to a crete village EDIT: since writing this, I've learned they will go to a crete village sometime! because it sounds pretty cool, even if cretes are generally kind of unfriendly. And dragons! The dragons are amazing, and I love the way Jaye handled them. I love Gem especially. Jaye's worldbuilding is solid, and the reveals are steady and realistic as the characters learn more about the world around them. Also, some old settings are revisited, and of course camp is a part of it.

Plot: 5/5

The plot is pretty awesome, and terrible at the same time. Jaye's pretty mean to her characters. There were plot twists that left me gasping, events that made me just about cry, and tense situations that made me not want to put the book down. Something I really liked about this one was that Jace and Kyrin were together for pretty much the whole book. It was great. There is a separate storyline, that of Timothy and Aaron and Josan, but it converges with that of the old characters before the midpoint is reached. There's a lot more of Kyrin's family in this book, which I loved. Really great.

Character Development: 5/5

Lots of Jace and Kyrin. They have grown quite a bit since they were first introduced, but in a completely natural way. I loved seeing how their friendship deepened, and how much they care about one another, though I wouldn't call it a romance yet. And I love Jace more the more I read about him. I've always connected to Kyrin, and I still do, but I've come to really love Jace. He's such a great guy, but so tortured by his past. And tortured in other ways. He's collecting fangirls, and it's not hard to see why. I loved seeing more of Kaden with his love of flying. Besides the fact that I still just love twins. Kyrin and Kaden are the perfect set of twins. I was able to get to know Marcus and Liam a lot more in this book. It took me a while to like Marcus, but I do now. We also get to meet the rest of Kyrin's family. Some new characters are introduced: half-crete brothers Timothy and Aaron and the crete Josan, cretes Captain Darq, Talas, Leetra, and Falcor. All are quite well developed. Leetra is especially well developed. She can be kind of prickly, but she also goes through some tough things. They further fill out the cast and add just what the story needs. I still like Jace and Kyrin best, though. :)

The King's Scrolls is an excellent next installment in the Ilyon Chronicles, and is better than the first. I highly recommend it.

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Blog Tour


Today is more than just a review, though. It's a part of the blog tour celebrating the release of The King's Scrolls! And so we have some extra goodies to go along with it.

Giveaway
Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed Epic Winter giveaway! Prize pack includes an autographed copy of The King’s Scrolls, a CD by Future World Music (some of Jaye’s favorite writing music), a dragon bookmark, a stone hawk pendant (much like the ones mentioned in the book), and a few packages of Twining’s Winter Spice tea to sip while you read! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

 

 Recommended for: All ages

Rating: PG (violence)

This is the TV show from the 1970s and the early 1980s. It follows the life of Doctor David Banner as he searches for a way to cure himself after an accidental dose of gamma radiation.

I loved this show, even though every episode follows the same pattern. He would usually meet someone in trouble, help them and in the process get beaten up and turn into the hulk (usually twice). At the end of each episode he would be walking away along a road. The show got canceled before he ever found a cure. He was also followed by a reporter named Jack McGee, who was obsessed with catching the Hulk. Even though I didn't like Jack, I still wanted him to know the truth about the Hulk and to realize his mistake about David Banner.

It is a sad show about a lonely man. There are some episodes that many TV shows have, for example, an amnesia episode, which was a two parter. I especially liked the episodes where he visited his family, which was also very sad. It was funny though when you could see the green paint coming off of the Hulk. I have seen everything Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby in it, although the TV movies weren't very good. The only disappointing thing about it was that he never got a cure and that he had to keep wandering. We were sad when we came to the end of the four with a partial fifth season. It was hard to find a show to replace it and it took several years to find one.

I would definitely recommend this show, even if you are not that into superheroes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: My Kingdom for a Quest

My Kingdom for a Quest by Kendra E. Ardnek


Recommended for: All Ages

Rating: G 

Arthur is the rightful king of Briton, but his Uncle Mordreth refuses to give up the regency. Arthur and Grandfather are now returning with allies to wrestle the kingdom from his uncle's grasp. But not all is as it seems among his allies, and everyone has secrets. New loves, old loves, lost loves, kingdoms conquered and kingdoms stolen. Who is the real "rightful heir" and will the nearly forgotten sword in the stone finally answer this question?

I saw Kendra Ardnek's books around the homeschool author community for awhile before reading them. My first was The Ankulen, which got me hooked on her writing. Then I ventured back to the Bookania Quests and read Sew, It's a Quest, which wasn't as good as her later writing, but I still enjoyed it greatly and wanted to continue the series. I read the second book, Do You Take This Quest in one day when I was sick around Christmas. I liked that one even more, and, since I loved it and can highly recommend it after reading it when I was sick (nothing serious, but I felt pretty awful), I would guess that means it is really good to be able to transcend illness. My Kingdom for a Quest is better than either of the two previous books in the series.

Writing: 5/5

Kendra's writing has improved considerably throughout her journey as a published author. Not that Sew was bad, it wasn't, it just isn't as good. Kingdom is the same quality of writing as The Ankulen, though the style is slightly different being in third person instead of first. It's sort of like older books, but a lively, fun type of writing, and at times it reminded me a bit of C. S. Lewis. She weaves many stories together in one, and handles the very large cast of characters well. Honestly, the various characters have more distinct personalities than I remember the dwarves in the book of The Hobbit having.

Setting: 4/5

Bookania is a fantasy world, but other than fairy godmother gifts, there is little magic left. Things have Changed. Much is inspired by various fairy tales and legends, but woven together into something new. There isn't really much new in the realm of setting in this book, but it is consistent with the worldbuilding of the two previous books. Bookania is an interesting place, and I feel there is still more to be revealed in it's cultures and histories.

Plot: 4/5

The main objective is to get rid of Uncle Mordreth. How to get everyone they need to help in the right place and willing to work together... It picks up after the honeymoons of Robin and Eric and Robert and Rosamond who had a double wedding in the last book. There are many personal things going on as those who have been asleep come to terms with it being one hundred years later, and as Robin behaves like Robin. And Eric has to deal with her. The plot wasn't terribly complex, though not entirely straightforward either, and I really enjoyed the storyline.

Character Development: 5/5

And now to my favorite part: Robin and Eric. They're just so funny together. There's more background on them in this book, about their long running childhood rivalry. I enjoyed it immensely. And their collections! No spoilers on it, though I just HAD to tell my sister even though she hadn't even read Take yet (I let her borrow my kindle to read it as soon as I finished Kingdom and she had it done by bedtime). But those were definitely some of my favorite parts. There's not quite as much of Robert and Rosamond, but they are still in it. There's more of Arthur and Shira's character gets explored more, as does Samson's. And the way things were for these characters before the Change is expanded on. But still, Robin and especially Eric take first place as favorites. I'm pretty sure Eric is my favorite. He's pretty awesome.

If you love fantasy, adventure, or are just looking for a fun read for any age, I highly recommend The Bookania Quests.

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Find the rest of the My Kingdom for a Quest blog tour here!


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23563093-my-kingdom-for-a-quest


Four of Kendra E. Ardnek's other books are free on kindle today!


Author Person: Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog, knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com.

And here's an excerpt from My Kingdom for a Quest.


    As they continued to search for some sign of life – even Doranna’s aviary was empty – Robin became more and more frantic. Soon “everyone’s missing” escalated into “they’re in danger,” from which naturally followed “we must rescue them!” And that somehow translated into Robin storming through the entire castle, gathering every weapon she could find, and depositing them in a huge pile in the front entry way.
   “You know,” Eric remarked, as he followed at a safe distance – Robin with a sword in her hands was a dangerous thing in any situation, and right now she was on the warpath, “I’m not sure King Jonathan would be too excited about finding every weapon in his castle in the front entry way …”
   She spun around. “Well, we can’t just sit around doing nothing!” She spun back around and continued her march. “They’re in trouble, I know they are!”
    Eric took a deep breath. “And I’m quite sure they’re not.”
    “And what makes you so sure?” she threw over her shoulder. “They’re missing – explain that!”
   Eric hesitated a moment, not exactly sure how to put it in words. “It’s a feeling I get. I just know when someone’s in trouble. They’re not.”
   “You’re the one who thought that the path was going to disappear.” She reached the pile and deposited the sword she carried.
   “Robin, can we please think about this logically for a moment,” Eric pleaded, positioning himself in front of the door she headed towards.
   “Them being in danger is perfectly logical,” she pointed out, shooting him a glare before she disappeared through a different door.
   Eric sighed and followed her. “Yes, but piling all the weapons in the entry way is not.”
   “We have to do something!”
   “I understand, but how will a pile of weapons help them?”
   “They’ll need them when we find them.”
   "And exactly how are we going to get the weapons to them?”
   She actually paused for half a moment. “I …” she began, and then she snapped back into her brisk pace. “You think of something.”
   “Ah, so that’s how it’s done,” said Eric, shaking his head.

See, aren't Eric and Robin amazing together? :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Movie Review: The Man From Snowy River

The Man From Snowy River


Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult

Rating: PG for language and violence

Set in late-19th-century Australia, this family drama follows Jim Craig, who lives with his father, Henry, in the pristine hills of Snowy River country, where stampedes of wild horses routinely gallop through the land. After Henry is unexpectedly struck and killed, Jim is told he's too "green" to take over his own land and is forced to take a job with Mr. Harrison, an American cattle baron who's made a fortune in Australia and is the talk of the country for his pure-bred colt worth 1,000 pounds.


Years ago, The Apple Dumpling Gang was on TV, followed by The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again and Return to Snowy River, a movie we had never seen or heard of before. We decided to record The Apple Dumpling Gang and only The Apple Dumpling Gang. Well...we learned the difference between AM and PM. When setting the recorder, we meant to set it to end at the end of the first movie, which ended sometime in the morning, but accidentally set it for that time in the PM instead of the AM. We didn't realize our mistake until we had recorded The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again and Return to Snowy River. We had recorded the sequel to a movie we hadn't watched. We always meant to eventually watch The Man From Snowy River so we could watch the sequel we had accidentally recorded, but only got around to it Saturday night.

Technical: 4/5
This is an older movie, so you can't expect it to be very technically advanced. That being said, for an older movie, it was very well-done.

Setting: 5/5
The setting was what I thought was cool about this movie. It was set in Australia, in the mountains and the lowlands. This meant the accents were cool. I don't know much about Australia, especially in that time period, but I think it was very well done.

Plot: 4/5
It's not hard to guess that this is at least in part a romance. Now, I'm not at all adverse to a little romance in stories, in fact quite the opposite, but I like it to be done right. The romance in this movie seemed fast. The progression of events of people falling for each other happened way too quickly. They only knew each other for about two weeks when they were kissing. That being said, if it had been slowed down a little, the romance would have been perfect. Not the central plot, clean, honorable, and not too much kissing, not cheesy or weird. As for the rest of the plot, it was...confusing. Good, but confusing.

Character Development: 4.5/5
The characters seemed pretty good. I didn't fall in love with them, but I didn't hate them either. They were developed well, but they probably could have been developed better.

I think this was a good movie and is worth watching.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Favorites: Peter Pan

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie


Recommended For: All Ages

Rating: G

"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go," said Peter. "You just think lovely wonderful thoughts, and they lift you up in the air."

When the Darling children are visited by Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, he convinces them to fly away to the island of Neverland, where children never grow up! There they meet the Lost Boys, a giant crocodile, and the evil Captain Hook. Discover the magical adventures of Peter Pan in this timeless, classic tale.

We all at one time have wished never to grow up. We all have read about Peter Pan, the boy who never did.
I really don't know why I like Peter Pan so much. I first read it a long time ago when the only copy in the house was my sister's. It had small print and was rather daunting. But I finished it and I really liked it. I have since then acquired my own copy, and now I love it. I can't really say who's my favorite character, though. All of the children are heartless, and J. M. Barrie acknowledges this, especially in his last line which I really love: "...and so it will go on, as long as children are gay and innocent and heartless."

Peter Pan is, of course, the central character of this book, although Wendy is the protagonist. Peter Pan, I'm told, is a jerk in the movie (I don't really know; I haven't seen it in forever), and is even worse in the TV show Once Upon A Time, but in the book, while he badly needs a mother, he's not a jerk and certainly not a villain. Peter Pan is very forgetful, he's selfish, as all children are, carefree, a little rude, but nice to the ladies. He tries to be a gentleman, although I'm not sure he succeeds at times. But he does succeed at other times, namely the lagoon adventure (read the book if you don't know what I'm talking about). Namely it is his forgetfulness that shapes Peter Pan. He is a natural leader, he doesn't like the Lost Boys to dress like him or know anything he doesn't know, he loves a good game, he is extremely cocky, he won't strike a man when he is down (literally), strives to always be fair, he despises the thought of mothers (real mothers, that is) and is insanely good at imagining things. An oft-forgotten fact is that Peter Pan had nightmares. As J. M. Barrie said, "Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them. They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence." This really made me feel sorry for Peter (and gave me inspiration for one of my characters with the same name).

Sorry for the really long paragraph. Peter is a mystery and it takes a while to explain him. Wendy was fascinated with him, and she could tell, like her mother and her progeny, that he desperately needed a mother. She tried to fulfill that role for him for a while, albeit not very well, but she was just a little girl in need of a mother of her own. I like Wendy very much. She and Peter are probably my favorite characters.

The Neverland is a very interesting place. J. M. Barrie developed it very well. It's so interesting and weird, and its inhabitants are whimsical.

Captain Hook deserves a shout-out. His name wasn't really James Hook, or as he wrote it, Jas. Hook, but someone who "To reveal who he really was would even at this late date set the country in a blaze;" but by Barrie's own admission, was not wholly evil. He loved flowers and sweet music, and was no mean performer on the harpsichord, and was harped up on good form. Peter himself had the highest of good forms, good form without knowing you have good form.Captain Hook was not wholly a bad man, and I kind of like him.

I also really like Barrie's writing style. It's hard to explain, really; I guess you'll just have to read the book again. I do a lot: it's a comfort read.

Anyone and everyone should read this book, and read it again and again. I really like it and it's a really good book.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: Dragons in our Midst: Raising Dragons

Dragons in our Midst: Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis

 

Recommended For: 13 and up

Rating: PG-13 (for violence)

A boy learns of his dragon past; a girl has known hers for years. They combine their faith, courage, and love to overcome an evil slayer who seeks to bring an end to dragon heritage, forever.


The kids at school call Billy "Dragon Breath" for good reason. His breath is bad! It isn't the normal, morning-mouth bad; it's the hot-as-fire, "don't-you-dare-get-near-me" bad. Trouble erupts when his hot breath sets off the fire sprinklers in the boys' restroom in school, and his parents learn that they've kept their secret for too long.

Billy finally discovers the secret. His father was once a dragon! Now that's a piece of news a guy doesn't deal with every day! Billy feels betrayed, alien, lost. When the dragon slayer traps him on a cold mountaintop in West Virginia, Billy learns to battle with weapons of steel and spirit while relying on a power he doesn't understand, a power that helps him learn to trust again.

Bonnie, an orphan, tries to find a home, someone to love her, even though she feels like a freak because of a body feature that she calls a deformity. But this unusual feature becomes a life-saving attribute as she discovers that her love for others and her faith in a creator hold the answers she's looking for.


I have wanted to read this book for awhile, since I like other books by this author, and so after getting it for Christmas, I finally got to read it. The reason it took me a month to read it was just because I didn't have much time to read, not because I didn't like it.

Writing: 4/5
 
The writing is well done and exciting. It is also well done with how things are slowly revealed throughout the story. It is also written in a way in which you get to know the characters. The writing is not as good as in his later books, but it still is good and an author should get better at writing over time.

Setting: 5/5

This story is set in a town in West Virginia and a mountain in the same state. There are some scenes set in England during King Arthur. I have only been to West Virginia once, but it seemed like an ordinary American town. I assume that there are mountains in West Virginia, since it is by the Appalachian mountains, but I don't really know the geography of that area. Being a fantasy story, it was done in a way that fits well with it being set in the real world. The part with King Arthur didn't have anything that made the setting seem inaccurate.

Plot: 4/5

The plot in the first book is pretty simple, but I expect it to get more complicated as the series goes on.  The plot is interesting and I enjoyed reading it. One problem that I had with the plot was that at the beginning, the characters were learning in school about a subject that was important in the book. It is always a little unrealistic when that happens. There were some things that could never happen, but because it is a fantasy story it works.

Characters 4/5

The main characters were all done well and they each had things that they struggled with. They were on the side of being perfect but they did have faults. I think that the villains could have been a little more realistic. The villains are supposed to be crazy, and they are. I do like the characters and I expect to like them even more as I read through the series.

I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: Growing Up Duggar

Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar


Recommended for: Girls Ages 13 and Up

In this delightful and very personal book, the four oldest Duggar girls share their hearts and their core beliefs, explaining that it's all about relationships!

Relationship with self: The girls share their own personal journeys to self-acceptance and navigating the difficult stage of adolescence. Relationship with parents: You'll find revelations about how Jim Bob and Michelle keep the lines of communication open with their children. Relationships with siblings: Here, you'll get a peek into the Buddy system, how the siblings handle conflict, and how the loss of little Jubilee (their sister) affected their relationships with each other. Relationships with friends: You'll find principles on how the Duggar kids deal with peer pressure and how they interact with friends outside their family. Relationships with boys: You'll learn the Duggar view of dating and courtship, and these four sisters will address the often-asked question of when one of them will get married. Relationship with God: And woven throughout the book, the girls talk about their most important relationship of all their relationship with God and their own personal faith and beliefs.

This candid look into what Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger believe and why they believe it will give you practical insights into your own life and will inspire you to evaluate principles that will work for you.

I had been wanting to read this book for awhile, but it wasn't until Leah E. Good reviewed it on her blog that I actually thought to look it up at the library. To my surprise, my library actually had it and so I decided to check it out. It sat on my dresser for a while, but when I finally sat down to read it, I read it in about a day. I actually had a couple people ask for a review on it, which is rather an unusual experience for me. I've never really reviewed a nonfiction book before, but here goes.

First off, the book is well written. It is written in a conversational style that is very friendly and easy to read, and really feels very personal. The Duggar girls did a good job of reaching out with this book and sharing their experiences. Yet while they were very specific about their convictions and definite that they believe firmly in them, they at the same time weren't judgmental about those with differing views. At least, I didn't feel like they were, and I certainly don't agree with them on every single thing.

In Growing Up Duggar, Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger used Scripture and their life experiences as well as those of people they know to explain their convictions and offer advice on how to live in a godly way in all areas of life. Not everything was new to me, but I did find myself noticing areas of my life that I need to work on as they discussed them. It also offered new perspective. For instance, I never realized before that by being discontent with unchangeables in one's self, you are being upset with God for the way He made you.

The focus of the book is relationships. They explain how they and their parents have always striven to have a good and open relationship and how beneficial that is for both parties. They also talk about relationships with siblings and how important they are. Your siblings are your siblings for always, so being friends is important. The Duggar girls haven't always been best friends; they share stories on how they cultivated the close relationship they have now. I have a good relationship with my sisters, but it's still far from perfect, and this book helped me to identify ways I am struggling in that and in my attitude that I need to work on.

The chapter on courtship and relationships with guys was especially interesting to me. It is something my mom and I have had many conversations on, and much of what they said reinforced what we have discussed. An example is that a young man's treatment of his mother and sisters is a good indicator of how he will treat his wife. They also talked about how important it is to get to know a guy in real life situations rather than solely in best behavior type situations, which is something I fully agree with. Last week, a family in my church hosted a meeting where three couples talked about their experiences with courtship, and while they were, for the most part, less strict in their rules than the Duggars, many of the subjects they talked about were the same and from generally the same perspective. They do deal with some tough subjects, particularly in this chapter, such as abortion, but they handled it all well.

I fully agree with the section on politics, and am glad that people who are strong Christians and as well known as the Duggars understand the extreme importance of Christians being involved in politics. They understand that it is a ministry, and that it affects all areas of our lives. Getting Christian conservative men in office is important to the survival of countless unborn babies, to the safety of Americans, and most of all, to our freedom to be able to worship God. The Duggars, like my family, have been involved in campaigns for Christian conservative candidates, and have worked hard to put people in office who will do God's will in the government. We as Christians need to be willing to do that.

 Now, I did mention that I don't agree with them on everything, but that's okay, and for them that's okay. Everyone is different. While I do fully agree with them on the importance of modesty, I don't feel like it's wrong for a girl to wear pants. (I rarely do as a matter of preference, mostly because I find it next to impossible to find pants that fit the way I like, you know, aren't tight or low-waisted, and it's just easier to make a batch of skirts.) And no, I don't agree that all dancing is bad. Certain types most definitely are, and I don't hold it against them in the least for abstaining from all, though I do think they're kind of missing out on the Posties Jig. I am less strict on media, but that isn't to say my take on it is correct either. It's impossible to read or watch anything written by humans and agree with it 100%. Humans are fallible. If you only consume media you fully agree with, you'll never read anything. There's a fine line somewhere, and I don't know where it is. And truly, it's different for everyone. Everyone has different temptations and different standards. And that's okay.

Growing Up Duggar is an excellent book on living a godly life, and one I would highly recommend.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair

 
Rating: PG

Recommended for: All Ages

Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch.

NARNIA...where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell...and where the adventure begins.

Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor...or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face and face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

Out of all of the old Narnia movies, this one is my favorite. The technology is not the greatest and some of the animals are abnormally large but it is still a great movie. There are some parts that are cut from the book but other than those couple parts, it is a faithful adaptation. I'm pretty sure that at one time this was my favorite movie and we watched it several times. I loved Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum and I loved the parts with the giants. The man on the cover was always creepy no matter how many times I watched it. I have even seen this movie in German, and it was funny when they talked about falling in the E in "mir" (which is German for me). There are many parts that I loved and thought were funny. I was first introduced to Narnia with the movies so I am more likely to like them when they are not like the books. I hope that they do make a new version of The Silver Chair but even if they do, I will still like the old version, which I have probably seen too many times. One thing that makes it my favorite is that the characters go on a quest, which is also one of the reasons that  The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite of  The Lord of the Rings.

I would recommend this movie, especially if you're a Narnia fan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Movie Review: Hugo

Hugo


Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult

Rating: PG

Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Brian Selznick's award-winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret stars Asa Butterfield as an orphan boy who lives in a Parisian train station. Sent to live with his drunken uncle after his father's death in a fire, Hugo learned how to wind the massive clocks that run throughout the station. When the uncle disappears one day, Hugo decides to maintain the clocks on his own, hoping nobody will catch on to him squatting in the station.

His natural aptitude for engineering leads him to steal gears, tools, and other items from a toy-shop owner who maintains a storefront in the station. Hugo needs these purloined pieces in order to rebuild a mechanical man that was left in the father's care at the museum -- the restoration was a project father and son did together.

When Georges, the old man who runs the toy stand, catches on to the thievery, he threatens to turn Hugo over to the station's lone police officer, who makes every effort to send any parentless child in the station to the orphanage. But Hugo's run-in with Georges leads to a friendship with the elderly gentleman's goddaughter, Isabelle, who unknowingly possesses the last item Hugo needs to make the mechanical man work again.

I knew basically nothing about Hugo before watching it, other than that I knew people who liked it. Oh, and that Howard Shore did the music. So I had no expectations, and no idea where the story would go. It easily blew me away. Hugo is a really good movie.

Technical: 5/5

Hugo is a well made movie. It's definitely not a film that was made on a small budget, or with untalented people in any area. Everything, from the writing to the design to the acting to the editing to the music (after all, it was Howard Shore) was very well done.

Setting: 5/5

Much of Hugo takes place in a train station in Paris. I can't remember if they ever said the exact year, but it's sometime past WWI, but when parents could still easily remember the earliest films. The atmosphere of the train station was certainly interesting and seemed authentic, though I can't personally verify it, never having been in a Paris train station in the 20s or 30s. :) The structure of the clocks where Hugo lives was really cool, and something I'd never really thought about before. Someone had to wind the clocks back in the old days, and they had to reach them somehow. It was really cool.

Plot: 5/5

Hugo is a children's movie, but that doesn't keep it from having a complex and involved plot. I honestly had no idea where it was going, at any point. It took me awhile to understand what was going on, but once I started to understand, I was more than interested in what would happen. What's cool is that certain things (I won't say what for spoilers) are taken from real history. There were many twists and turns throughout the story that left me guessing where it was going to go next. I was definitely interested in Hugo and Isabelle's personal stories as well as the revelation of the mystery they were pursuing. It was amazing.

Character Development: 4.5/5

The characters weren't quite top notch favorite fictional character quality, but they were extremely well-developed nonetheless. I cared about Hugo and Isabelle and was anxious to see things turn out well for them, Hugo particularly since he had some extreme hardships he was going through. Isabelle had a good life with her godparents, though there were things she did not know. The side characters added character to the story, such as the lady with the dog, and the police officer. And Papa Georges and Mama Jeanne were both unique fully developed people who fulfilled their role in the story well.

Hugo supposedly didn't make much money, but I don't know why. It is an excellent movie which I highly recommend.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Reviews: Do You Take This Quest?

Do You Take This Quest? by Kendra Ardnek


Recommended For: All Ages

Rating: G

When Arthur's parents were lost at sea, his Uncle Mordreth became the regent for the young boy. Yet now that he's of age, Mordreth seems to have no intentions of relinquishing the throne.

It looks as though Arthur will have to fight for his throne. If only he had more than just his two servants and the old man he met in the woods for friends. So the old man takes things into his own hands and whisks Arthur off to the wedding of a fellow prince, with the intention of finding him some allies.

All is not right at the wedding, however. The groom is missing and the bride has called quits. Where's the groom? Well, he's found a new bride. Now if he can just get her home ...


I read the first book in this series a while back, and just recently, I finally got to read this one!

Writing: 5/5

The writing was good. I mean, there wasn't anything spectacular about it, but there wasn't anything unspectacular about it, either. The writing wasn't the important part. The story and the characters were. I must admit, I was frustrated when it didn't really go from Robin's point of view much in the book. But doing the beginning parts with Madeleine's POV was probably the best way it could be done while making sense.

Setting: 5/5

Bookania is a very...interesting place. It's certainly a very unique fantasy world, and Kendra has made it and the fairy tales all her own. It seems a very light-hearted world, especially when compared to Ilyon. Kendra has done very well in world-building. It's strange how if someone resembles someone else, they look almost exactly alike each other. And there's a ridiculous amount of twins. But that's all part of the world of Bookania.

Plot: 5/5

Um...I'm not exactly sure what the plot was. But whatever it was, it was really good. It's confusing, but good.

Character Development: 5/5

I enjoyed having Robin and Eric and the others back, although I would have enjoyed more of Robert and Rosamond. I like the new characters, especially Arthur. I like Madeleine, but I honestly don't see why she's Kendra's favorite character ever (Sorry, Kendra). Madeleine is a little irritating, actually. But I still like her. I enjoy Robin and Eric together. They're just so funny. And Doranna...

Do You Take This Quest? is a good book and a great continuation of the series. Anyone who has read Sew, It's a Quest should read this book.