Friday, January 29, 2016

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery ~Review

So many people were talking about this book and how good it was, that I finally decided I'd better read it.  And then as a couple people inquired what I thought of it, I decided I'd better write up a review as well.  So here it is.
This is the eighth, and last, book in The Anne of Green Gables series, and is about Anne's youngest daughter Rilla.  When the story begins, Rilla is a lively young girl of nearly fifteen, who is anxious to leave behind her childhood and experience the joys of being a young--and not unattractive--young woman.  She has dreams of love and romance (particularly in regards to a certain young man named Kenneth) and is looking forward to the forthcoming years with the optimism of youth. 
     But then comes a war.  And with it Rilla's childish dreams of a happy and carefree existence shatter in an instant.  She watches as her brothers and friends leave to perform their duty overseas--watches and waits and hopes.  The war will bring much sorrow, but it will also shape young Rilla into a strong, mature young woman; and as she learns to rise above misfortune--to "keep faith"--she will find that there is still happiness to be found in this world.  And perhaps, in the end, it will prove to be an even greater happiness because of all that was sacrificed to gain it.
(Okay.  That was my first attempt at writing a summary for a book review.  I'm afraid it's pretty awful, but I'm going to have to leave it as it is, because I really haven't the time to be overly perfectionistic today.)
My Thoughts:
Rilla of Ingleside is definitely a war story.  It begins with the start of the war and ends with it's completion.  I confess, it was not my favorite book.  Sometimes war stories can be a bit depressing to me, and at one point I was ready to conclude that yes! this was another sad, depressing war story.  But actually, now that I've reached the end, my feelings are quite different.  The conclusion was so hopeful and happy that it helped a good deal in making up for all the preceding sadness; and it really was a beautifully written story.  So...yeah.  Overall, it was a good book. 
Things I didn't like so very much:
~There wasn't enough dialogue to suit me (by which I mean, real in-depth conversations).  A lot of the talking was done by Susan the maid, and while she is a good enough character in herself, still I really did want to hear more from some of the other characters.  (For example.  It annoyed me excessively the one time when it seemed that Anne and Gilbert were just about ready to have a nice confidential chat, and then Susan came out and started talking.  The moment with Anne and Gilbert was gone, and I must admit, I was quite put out with Susan.)
~I didn't feel like I got to know Rilla's family very well.   Gilbert and Anne were in it, but not satisfactorily, if you know what I mean.  And as for her siblings, Walter was the only one who I came close to getting to know, and even that was not quite enough.  (Maybe the book was just too short, I don't know.)
~I would have been okay with a little more detail about Kenneth and Rilla's romance.  It struck me that Kenneth was hardly even in the book, and in order to really like a character I feel like I need to see a little more of them.  ;)
Things I liked very much:
~THE ENDING!  (And no, it was not because I was anxious to get the book over with.  Seriously.  I liked the ending because it was genuinely one of the best parts in the book.)  It was soaringly beautiful.  The words, the descriptions...the joyfulness of the war finally being over and everyone coming home again, and the fact that life really does go on.  Despite the pain and the sorrow, life truly can be happy again.  And that made me SO happy!!
~Susan's talk to Rilla about why she believed that Jem was still living.   Talk about emotional!   (Oh!  And I did come close to tears on more than one occasion.  Just sayin'.)
~Walter's letter to Rilla.  (Actually, that may have been about the time that I decided this book was too sad, but anyway, the letter itself was really good.)
~When Rilla finally learns to love baby Jims.  Up until that point, I was quite put out with her for being so hard-hearted.  (After all, who can't love a baby?)  But it was good to see, in the end, that she really did have some sense.  Haha!
~Kenneth's words to Rilla at the end.  "'Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?' he asked meaningly."  Aw.  *contented sigh of happiness*
...I feel like there was something more I was going to say, but now I can't remember it.  (My goodness.  This feels like a very jumbled sort of review, indeed.)   Ah, well...
I need to wrap this up somehow, so I suppose I'll simply conclude with a quote from the book that really stood out to me.
"Let us drink," he said, "to the silent army--to the boys who followed when the Piper summoned.  'For our tomorrow they gave their today'--theirs is the victory!"

The End.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I've Been Watching...

...a lot of movies lately.  Aside from Cinderella which was all the rage last week, I have also been watching some very interesting TV shows with some of my family members, and now we are working our way through a mini-series as well, so I thought I'd let you in on the fun.  (That is, if it is fun to hear about the movies which someone else is watching, and you are not.  That is a debatable point, I admit.)  Anyhow...

Little Dorrit

My second oldest sister made the remark the other day that she would like to watch one of our long movies again--you know, the kind of movie that takes you several days to finish.  Well, such a stipulation, while narrowing our choices down considerably, still left us with quite a few options.  Fiddler on the Roof, Pride and Prejudice, Little Dorrit, Emma, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist...lot's of good possibilities there.  We finally decided on Little Dorrit and began watching it Saturday night.  Can I just say this? I love that movie.  There are so many good characters in it.  And while in  many ways it's a dark and depressing story, still in others it's extremely fun. I'm telling you, we laughed so much the other night.  And really I don't see how one can help it with such characters as Panks and Fanny and Sparkler!  They're hilarious!  Why one only has to look at Sparkler to be overcome with mirth!  And Panks!  His mysterious comments and abrupt snorts are so ridiculously amusing!  Ahem.  Yes, well.   I do admit, Little Dorrit  has it's problems, too.  There are a few scenes which we forward, and I wouldn't say it's the cheerful-est movie I've ever seen (Ha! Far from it!), but if you can tolerate the really aggravating characters and make it through all the heartbreak and emotion then I think you'll agree it's a pretty amazing film.  I like  it anyway.  :)

Downton Abbey

I just started watching the sixth season last night with one of my sisters, my sister-in-law, and my sister-in-law's husband (which would be my brother, just in case you didn't get that. Haha!).  This is not a TV show that I recommend to people because there's too much that I dislike about it, but I have to admit that, personally, I've gotten sucked into the story and so I want to finish it and find out what happens.  So far it looks like this season is going to be pretty typical.  It was amazing how many characters were having a bad day in the very first episode.  Just about everyone had something to worry about.  So, yeah, let the drama begin

Oh!  And I just have to say, the Dowager Countess' lines are the best!   "Does it ever get cold up there on the moral high ground?"   So funny!  (Also, I was quite proud of myself for spotting Wickham from P&P '95.  He was just a minor character, and I couldn't place him at first, but I finally figured it out.  I knew I'd seen him before!)

Jeeves and Wooster

We're into the second season of this show now, and I must say it definitely measures up to what people have said of it.  It's hilarious!  Bertie's facial expressions!  And Jeeves', too, for that matter!  And all the ridiculous situations they find themselves in.  For example, the scene we watched last night where Bertie and Jeeves go searching through Miss Stephanie's room in order to find Gussie's book, which she refuses to return to him.  In the midst of their search, Miss Stephanie's vicious little dog jumps out from under the bedclothes, and before you know it Bertie's standing on the dresser and Jeeves...yes Jeeves!...that calm, proper, sophisticated sitting atop the wardrobe!  It took us completely by surprise to see him in such a predicament.  However, even in the midst of such a  ludicrous situation Jeeves still manages to sit up straight and keep his dignity.   (Dignity. Always dignity.)  Yes, well.  All that to say, I am very much enjoying this show.  It's hilariously funny, and if you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you strongly to give it a try. 

Get Smart

We've been watching this show sporadically for months.  I must say, it's one of the silliest TV shows I've ever seen.  The humor might be called "cheesy," but it's delivered in such an extremely funny way that the corniness of it only makes it all the more hilarious!  It's probably one of the few shows that can get away with using the same punch lines over and over again and still make you laugh every time.   It's hilarious, and fun, and...did I mention hilarious?  "Don't tell me I'm using the word hilarious too much. " "You're using the word hilarious too much."  "I ASKED you not to tell me that."  (Sorry, you'd have to see it to appreciate that quote, because the tone of voice is everything, and grr...I can't write a tone of voice in a blog post.)

Have you seen any of these shows?
What do you think of them?
Did I use the word hilarious too much?
Oh!  And am I, by any chance, asking too many questions?

Yes!  You are!

"Sorry about that." (In a Maxwell Smart voice.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cinderella 2015 ~Review

I've been meaning to review this movie for months, but have always hesitated on the grounds that I don't know how to write a review.  Also there have been so many good reviews of this movie already that I'm really not sure what to add, and I'm afraid I'll bore you with yet another opinion on it.   However, I have decided to take the plunge.  Having now seen this film a total of four times--three of those times being within the past week--I'm thinking I'd better review it now or never.

When I first heard about this movie I was told that it was to be a live-action remake of the original Disney cartoon, so when I first saw it I very naturally began to compare the two movies, noting the differences which the filmmakers chose to make in this newest adaption.  My review therefore, will probably include some comparisons.  Not because I necessarily consider one film to be better than the other, but simply because noting the differences between the two versions is what comes most easily for me.  I won't bother with a detailed synopsis of the story because I'm sure most people already have a general idea of it how it goes.  In brief, it's about a very good girl who loses her parents, becomes enslaved to her evil stepmother, is sent to the ball by the magic maneuverings of her fairy godmother, meets and dances with the prince, loses her shoe in a mad dash to get home before the spell breaks at midnight, and then, of course, marries the prince in the end 'cause that's the way of all good fairy tales. 

In this particular version we get to see Cinderella (or Ella, rather) as a young girl, growing up happily with her adoring parents.

I enjoyed that aspect of the film as it gave a greater realness to the characters, and a greater sense of what Ella has lost once her parents are no longer living.  (If you like emotional, tear-filled scenes, you're going to have a jolly good time with this movie.)  

Ella's relationship with her father was very sweet, I thought, both as a child and as a young woman.

Obviously it was hard for her to see her father remarry, but she was very supportive and encouraging.  I really like the scene of them together in the study where he reassures her that he still misses her mother.   I know I would want to have such an assurance if I were Ella. 

Speaking of relationships--sorry, but I'm afraid I'm going to be jumping all over the place in this review--I also really liked the Prince's relationship with his father. 

In the cartoon the prince doesn't have much of a personality, so it was very nice to see him talking and joking with his father.  (And crying, too, of course...because emotional, tear-filled scenes are the thing in this movie.)

Okay, sorry, I think I just got ahead of myself.  We're not supposed to be talking about the prince yet.  (Bear with me, please. I've never written a review before. )

Going back to Ella...  
So her father remarries, as everyone knows he will because that's the only way to get Ella a stepmother.  And I assure you, her stepmother and stepsisters are every bit as cruel...and they are in the cartoon movie.  

Anastasia to Cinderella: "You have lovely hair."
Drizella to Cinderella: "You should have it styled."'

Styled like yours, Drizella?  Oh, spare us!  PLEASE!

With stepsisters like these, one might assume that things couldn't get much worse for Ella, but...*ahem*...they can.  Oh yes!  Ella's father dies and her stepmother shows her true colors.  She's evil, cruel, and mean... 

...Not only that!  She's not even nice!  (And she has the most obnoxious laugh ever!)

Ella becomes nothing more than a servant girl.

Which is sad, of course.  But it does allow for some very adorable pictures, wouldn't you agree?
I apologize again.  I'm moving much too slow on this thing and I'm using far too many pictures.  Let's switch gears.  I'll just list for you some of the things that stood out to me.  The things I liked, disliked, or just had a random thought about.    [Warning: This is going to become a very rambling post.]  Here goes.
~I like how Ella meets the prince before the ball, because such a circumstance gives a lot more credibility to their romance in the end.  And plus that scene was highly entertaining.  "It's Kit!  Kit!  Kit!  I'm Kit."  Alright, your Highness, we get the idea.  You want to be called Kit. :)

~I liked the fairy godmother...much better than I thought I would.  In fact, I had been perfectly certain I would not like her because she did not fit my mental image of the fairy all.  However, in the end I have to admit she was quite funny and I enjoyed her character very much.
~The scene with Ella and the Prince in the garden was cool.  The setting was beautiful. 
Plus I found a really pretty picture!  So!  Why not use it?

And when Cinderella loses her shoe while swinging on the swing and the prince offers to place it back on her foot!  Oh!  It was so much fun to ruin the romantic moment by saying to the prince, "If you can find her foot in all that skirt!"

~Cinderella's skirt really was impressively large.  It's a wonder the prince was able to dance with her without getting all tangled up in it. 
~I expected the mice to talk because that's what they do in the cartoon movie.  However, they didn't.  All they did was squeak.  At first I was disappointed by that, but I now see that, that was the best way to go.  The cartoon mice characters wouldn't have fit properly into this story at all.
~There was one line in the movie which stood out to me as being particularly good.  It was that scene up in the attic where Cinderella, crushed by her stepmother's harsh treatment, asks her why she treats her so,  and the stepmother replies, "Because you are young and innocent and good.  And I am..."  Yes well, it was pretty powerful, until my dad finished her sentence for her, "old, guilty, and bad."  Haha! 
~The stepsisters sense of style is horrendous!
Ugly, ridiculous,, Drizella! Cinderella should never take hair-styling lessons from you!  (Oh!  It's painful!)
~When the stepmother is discussing plans with the Duke and he says "Are you threatening me?"  All I can think of is "You are threatening our friendship."  (Amazing Grace reference.  *wink*)
Okay, now I'm going to get a little nitpicky.  I hope you don't mind.  But this is the way my mind works.
~*Ahem*  Did the stepmother really think she could blackmail Cinderella into letting her rule the kingdom?  That's just silly.  Like the prince would really be such a fool as to let some strange woman tell him what to do.  Honestly!  That makes no sense at all.
Silly Stepmother.  I think you'd better think it out again.
~Umm...if the prince was going to ride along on the whole slipper-fitting trek anyway, why didn't they just ask him to go along in the first place and identify the girl when he saw her.  After all, he knows what she looks like.  Why even bother with the shoe?
~And, finally, I just have to say, I'm not at all nervous for Cinderella when she comes down the stairs at the end of the film, wondering whether the Prince--seeing her now as she really is--will still want to marry her.   Hello! 
This was their first meeting.  This is where he fell in love with her.  I really don't think there's any doubt about his marrying her.
Alright, let's see if I can wrap this up.  I feel like I haven't said anything worth saying in this post, so sorry about that.  At least you got to see some pictures (which, of course, you could have found for yourself...but never mind.)
Cinderella is a delightful, sparkling, family friendly film.  If you are a fan of  fairy tales and princess stories, then I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this movie.  (Okay. I think I just overused the letter "f.") 
Have you already seen this movie?
What was your opinion of it?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A New Year

Well, I never did get any of those half-promised Christmas posts done.  I started a couple but they sort of stalled, and then before I knew it Christmas was over and it was too late.  Just my luck.  Why can't time keep pace with me?  Must it always rush ahead so?

Anyway, I now feel the need to write a New Years post as a means of starting things afresh.  However, I'm not quite sure how to write it.  I thought at first of doing the New Years tag which has been floating around lately, but I was having a hard time coming up with answers to all the questions, so I scratched that idea.  Then I thought about reviewing the past year, month by month, but that is sure to prove very dull indeed as there wasn't much change in my life from one month to another. 

Ah well.  I suppose I could simply say Happy New Year and be done with it. 

...That's lame. 


Alright.  I've got it.  I'll just write a random jumble of stuff--events, thoughts, feelings, whatever--which will hopefully serve to give at least a small picture of what 2015 was like.  And I'll make it a quick one.  Because I seriously intend to beat the 2017 New Year...if I possibly can.  ;)

2015: Random Events in My Life
In no Particular Order 
~Looking for a job~  ~Weeping over the trials of life~  ~Staying up late; seizing those happy hours with my older set of siblings~  ~Missing my brother and sister away at school~  ~Watching far too many movies, but having a lot of fun doing it~  ~Going crazy (just about every other day)~  ~Finding a job~  ~Enduring it~  ~Relishing Tuesday evenings at my older brother and sister-in-law's home--where good conversation, an adorable nephew, a movie, and chocolate make for a grand evening of fun and relaxation~  ~Visiting relatives~  ~Crying over my inability to express myself in writing~  ~Wasting time on the internet~  ~Starting a blog (for some ridiculous reason)~  ~Writing voluminous e-mails to my brother at school~  ~Realizing that my family is in a continual season of change...children growing up and moving on and all that~  ~Trying to be okay with it~  ~Switching churches~  ~Driving separate cars to church instead of driving altogether in the fifteen passenger van!  (What are we coming to?)~ ~Saying good-bye to the dearest, most fun-loving, grandpa in the world--and yet, thankful to know that death isn't the end, but only the beginning, and that one day we will meet again~ 
 ~Spending delightful afternoons with my grandma--making Christmas cookies together being one of the happiest memories of the year~  ~Laughing uproariously (because some siblings are just too funny)~  ~Weeping~  ~Rejoicing~  ~Feeling frustrated over the state of our nation and the world in general~  ~Watching too many political debates and feeling frustrated all over again~  ~Discovering that pool--whether you're good at the game or not--is a wonderful means of letting off steam~  ~Having long discussions late into the night with my best friends (Ahem.  That would be my siblings)~  ~Weeping...again.  Because that's what Miss Marches do best~  ~Feeling blessed beyond measure to be surrounded by so many loving family members~ 

~Blown away by the strength my parents display, and their faithfulness to God's calling; also overwhelmingly grateful for their constant love and encouragement~  ~Realizing, as I have many times, that those years of learning an instrument were well worth it--being able to play the piano is such a blessing...and such a nice stress reliever, too.  (And, no.  I am not the kind of person who gets stressed easily.  What ever gave you that idea?)~  ~Making big plans for all the things I'm going to accomplish.  (It is the thought that counts, right?)~  ~Thankful for God and how He carries us through life's difficulties~  ~Amazed by how the joys of life can so overshadow the dark times that the dark times are barely remembered~  ~Learning to lean on God more and trust Him with my life~  ~Thankful for another year in which to grow and see God's hand at work~  ~Eagerly anticipating what that New Year will bring~
Yes, I know.  I kind of have a thing for cute animal pictures right now.  ;)

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait  for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. 
~Isaiah 40:28-31
"But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend, you whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, 'You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.  Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'" 
~Isaiah 41:8-10
Happy New Year!
~Miss March