"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Snow White Author Interview with Rachel Kovaciny

Howdy, y'all!

Today I am participating in the blog book tour for Rachel Kovaciny's new book, One Bad Apple, which released yesterday!
I'm so thrilled about this, and my copy is supposed to arrive any day now, but in the mean time I'll be interviewing Rachel. Enjoy reading all her awesome answers to my questions!

(This is obvious, but I'm in bold or red, and Rachel is in standard type. Also, all links are to the reviews on Rachel's blogs if applicable.)

Welcome to my blog, Rachel! Thanks for being my first interviewed author on my blog! (Woop woop! Exciting day for us both). Here are my questions for you:

When did you start writing stories and when did you know that you wanted to be an author?

I've been telling stories for as long as I can remember.  Once in a while, I would scribble one down, but it wasn't until I was 14 that I said, "I want to learn how to write better stories."  So I started writing short stories, mostly based on favorite TV shows, though I didn't know that fanfiction was an actual thing at that time.  I shared them with my parents, my brother, and sometimes visiting grandparents.  But I didn't have my sights set on being an author, I was just having fun doing something new.  When I was about 16, I took high school chemistry and realized I didn't want to be a veterinarian after all.  I'd loved biology, but chemistry?  Nope.  So I started trying to figure out a new answer to the "what are you going to be?" question I was getting a lot at that age, and I settled on Journalist.  I wrote a few pieces for my local newspaper and went to college confident I would be a journalist.

And then I realized I hated talking to strangers still, even though I was technically an adult.  So much for journalism.  But by then, I loved writing fiction, so I joined the campus writer's group, took creative writing courses, and graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts with concentrations in English and History.  Somewhere in all that, I decided that yeah, I was going to get published some day.

Not to put you in a hard spot, but what's your favorite thing that you've written?

It might be Dancing and Doughnuts right now, but I think when I have a little more distance from it, One Bad Apple may end up being my favorite.

What was your introduction to Westerns?

My parents took me to the movie theater to see The Man from Snowy River (1982) when I was two years old.  I've loved anything involving cowboys and horses ever since.  It's still my favorite movie.

What is your favorite Western book or movie?

Well, I just answered with the movie above, The Man from Snowy River (1982), though that takes place in Australia.  My favorite movie that takes place in the American Old West is The Sons of Katie Elder (1965).  My favorite western book is Shane - by Jack Schaefer, which I've read three times and do not tire of.

How did you come up with the idea of writing fairytale retellings without magic?

I am not a big fan of world-building.  As in, creating a made-up world that makes sense.  It's HARD.  This is a big part of why I don't write fantasy or sci-fi.  I would rather research how things actually worked in the past (or present) than make it all up.  So creating a magic system within an Old West setting never appealed to me.  Also, I have a lot of Christian friends who don't read books with magic in them because it conflicts with their beliefs, and many of them were sad that a lot of fairy tale retellings are kind of off-limits to them as a result.  I wanted them to be able to read my books, so that really confirmed my desire to find non-magical ways to retell them.

What is the first fairytale that you remember hearing/reading?

I had this collection of Disney records with storybooks when I was really small, starting when I was probably three, and my parents gave me an old turntable to play them on.  I had Cinderella, Snow White, the Brave Little Tailor, and Jack and the Beanstalk, so one of those was probably the first.  No idea which one anymore!

What was your first experience with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

Definitely the Disney read-aloud book + record.  Although I also had this other record of stories for kids that didn't have a book with it, but it had a lot of songs.  I remember one from their version of Snow White went something like "We're seven little men, no bigger than your thumb, tweedly-dee, tweedly-die, tweedly-dum-dum."  I remember being annoyed that the illustration on the record's sleeve showed the dwarfs being a LOT bigger than Snow White's thumb and being annoyed by the song because it wasn't accurate.

How many versions of Snow White have you seen and read?

Let's see... I've seen the 1937 Disney animated film (which I don't like much), Mirror Mirror (2012) (funny and silly), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) (only worth it for Chris Hemsworth and the aesthetic), and Ball of Fire (1941) (modern-day retelling that's awesome).

(I happen to have seen all of those and I agree with those shorts thoughts!)

As for books, I've read the Grimm version in several different forms, the wonderful collection Five Poisoned Apples (ed. by Anne Elisabeth Stengl -- my favorite is "Falling Snow" - by Skye Hoffert), January Snow - by Hayden Wand (quite cool), "Hart Spring" - by Meredith Leigh Burton (very sweet, from her Blind Beauty collection), Death be Not Proud - by Suzannah Rowntree (also cool),  and the graphic novel Snow White - by Matt Phelan (fantastic!).

What are your favorite versions of Snow White?

"Falling Snow" by Skye Hoffert is my #1 favorite.  She sets the story in a magical circus during Prohibition, and it is dark and brave and delicious.  I've read it four times.  I also love the movie Ball of Fire, another one set in the twentieth century, in which Snow White is a nightclub singer and the dwarfs are professors writing an encyclopedia.  It's so, so funny.

How did you feel being one of the judges/readers for Five Poisoned Apples?

It was wonderful!  A lot of work, but wonderful.  I learned a lot from it about things that really work in a retelling and things that... really don't.  I read almost twenty stories for it, and it was so cool to see how many ways you can retell the same story and make it all different and fresh.  It was an honor and a thrill.

Have you read the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red? Thoughts?

I have!  I had a picture book version of it as a kid, and the daughters were really pretty, but there was this extremely creepy ogre that had a necklace that freaked me out, so I only read it very occasionally.  But anyway, the story is a good one, very different from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."  I like that it has a sister dynamic to it, because sibling relationships are one of my favorite things to explore.

If you were a fairytale character, who would you be?

Probably Cinderella.  Just doing my thing, getting my work done, trying to be kind and keep up my courage.

Who is an author who inspires you?

As far as sheer beauty of the way he puts words together, Raymond Chandler.  I always reread one of his novels when I'm in the last stages of polishing one of my own because he focuses me on descriptions like no one else can.  As far as being able to make ordinary people and normal, everyday life shine, L. M. Montgomery is a continual inspiration.

What is your favorite writing quote?

"Every time you write, something valuable will occur." -- SARK

And finally, what advice would you give to writers who are struggling with part of their story?

Refill your creative reservoir.  Go watch a movie, read a book, go to an art gallery (or visit one virtually), watch a play.  If you keep your reservoir filled, creativity will spill out of you.

Also, be okay with trying something that might not work.  You can always rewrite it and find what does.  And rewriting a story does not mean you told it badly the first time!  It just means you have found a way to tell it even better.  When I decided to enter the Sleeping Beauty contest for the Five Magic Spindles collection, I wrote a whole story, about 20K.  Gave it to my best friend, and she said, "This is nice, but kinda boring.  What if you told it from someone else's point of view?"  I sulked.  I fumed.  For like a week.  Then I rewrote the WHOLE THING, start to finish, going from telling it in third person from the gunfighter/prince's POV to telling it in first person from the midwife/good fairy's POV.  And it transformed the story.  It won the contest.  Rewriting doesn't mean you did something wrong, it just means you're finding an even better way to tell your story.

Finally, write what you love.  People say "write what you know," but you can learn about anything with a library card, internet connection, and patience.  Write what you love because, if you're successful and get to write a lot of it, you'll get tired of it if you don't love it.

This is back to MC again. Thanks to Rachel for her awesome answers! By now you are probably wondering, "What is One Bad Apple even about? Would you care to share, MC?" I'm happy to oblige:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… reimagined.

When a wagon train of Black pioneers rescues the seven orphaned Dalton cousins from the side of the trail, it seems like an answer to their prayers. As they roll west toward Kansas, fourteen-year-old Levi Dalton is dazzled by the beautiful Mrs. Mallone. She's a healer, and her knowledge of medicines and herbs inspires Levi to want to become a doctor. Maybe then he can stop people from dying of fevers and illnesses like his folks did. 

But Mrs. Mallone's stepdaughter, Hopeful, warns Levi not to become too attached to the healer. Levi dismisses her warnings and his own misgivings until the day he sees something dreadful. 

Levi knows he needs to tell someone what he’s seen before it’s too late. But will anyone believe the story of a fourteen-year-old orphan? Will anyone stand up to evil, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged?

Want to join in the release party fun? Well, Rachel is acting like a fairy godmother and hosting a giveaway! Check out the awesome goodies that she has HERE or HERE.

Want your own copy of One Bad Apple? Buy it on:

Author info:

This blog tour is loaded with reviews and interviews! To read all the posts as they come out, check HERE.

Congrats to Rachel for publishing One Bad Apple! I can't wait to read it.

Thanks for reading! Who else loves the fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Have you seen or read any of the versions that Rachel talked about?


Saturday, July 25, 2020

TV Series Review: The Chosen: Season 1, Episodes 5-8

Hello, hello!

This is the last day of Megan and Samantha's Catholic Liturgy Week, so I am trying to "slip under the wire" and get this post in, heehee.
I talked about episodes 1-4 of the series The Chosen HERE, and it's time for me to review the rest of the series.

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. These are spoiler free!

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 5: "The Wedding Gift" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Jesus and His new students attend a wedding of one of His mother's friends. The parents of the groom are trying to impress the parents of the bride, but with some many guests the wine that they ordered doesn't look like it will be enough for all of them. Nicodemus questions the man called John the Baptist in order to find answers. With so many questions burning in his mind can there be a solution?
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 54 minutes.
Costumes: 8, very accurate to the times.
Script: 10, no bad words!
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
2. Vanessa Benavente as Mother Mary.
3. Joey Vahedi as Thomas.
4. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
5. Noah James as Andrew.
6. Giavani Cairo as Thaddeus.
7. Erick Avari as Nicodemus. "Clearly you are not a frothing madman, but every bit as unreasonable."
8. Yasmine Al-Bustami as Ramah.
9. Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene.
10. Karina Dominguez as Helah.
Cinematography: 9, something about the way they did the wedding and everything was really cool. I liked it a lot!
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8. The theme isn't getting any less catchy.
Quotes: N/A because of how recently I watched it.
Content: 10, absolutely clean in all ways.
Originality: I liked how nicely everything was connected with the wedding! I'll admit that I had my doubts because it wasn't in the first episode, but I now approve.
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all ages!
Overall Score: 9
This was a really good episode! So many things resonated with me. First, when Simon asks Andrew, "How did father teach us to be fishermen?" and the reply is: "He didn't. We just sat there and watched." Let me tell you, that's my dad's way of teaching. The thing is, whenever I'm supposed to be paying attention I start thinking and am then entirely in my own head.
Second, none of you know this, but I am learning to be a stonemason. This is my dad's and my project for this summer (and probably next, too...). Because of that, the way that Thaddeus talked about being a stonemason and such a special moment was incredible to me. While cutting some stone today I was thinking about it a lot.

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 6: "Indescribable Compassion" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Matthew cannot believe what he saw on the shore. Because of this he starts looking for answers. Jesus and the others have returned to Capernaum and when He starts talking a huge crowd gathers. A woman who saw a miracle that He did on the road has hope rise within her, can it be done again and can her friend be healed?
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 52 minutes.
Costumes: 8.
Script: 10, no bad words!
"He's the only one who knows who I'll become."
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
2. Paras Patel as Matthew.
'"Just try to look natural."
"I am natural, I look exactly how I feel."'
3. Amber Shana Williams as Tamar.
4. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
5. Noah James as Andrew.
6. Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene.
7. Noé de la Garza as the Paralytic.
8. Nick Shakoour as Zebedee.
9. Kian Kavousi as Big James.
10. George Harrison Xanthis as John.
Cinematography: 8.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8.
Quotes: N/A.
Content: 10, all acceptable by any standards.
Originality: This is based on the true story so I don't want to rate it.
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all ages!
Overall Score: 9.
Welp, more crying. I love the story of the paralytic man (it's one of my favorites!), and they did a fantastic job with it. Plus, we saw Abigail and Joshua again which made me so happy! Altogether, this might be my favorite episode.

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 7: "Invitations" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Matthew is doubting everything and even goes to his family who rejects him to be able to talk to someone. Nicodemus has finally arranged a meeting with the famous man Jesus. Will all of his questions be given an answer?
"It's an act of faith, not reason. Faith."
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 52 minutes.
Costumes: 8.
Script: 10, no bad words!
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Erick Avari as Nicodemus.
2. Paras Patel as Matthew.
3. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
4. Janis Dardaris as Zohara.
5. Lara Silva as Eden.
6. Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene.
7. Brandon Potter as Quintus.
8. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
9. Noah James as Andrew.
10. Jordan Walker Ross as James.
Cinematography: 8.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8.
Quotes: N/A.
Content: 10, all acceptable by any standards.
Originality: All of the character development in this episode was spot on!
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all ages!
Overall Score: 9.
All I'm going to mention, is that I need to stop saying when I cry during this show because it is inevitable. From now on, anytime I mention The Chosen, just assume that I cried because you will probably be right.

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 8: "I Am He" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
The time has come to leave Capernaum. The Romans are getting suspicious, and Jesus knows that He is needed elsewhere. It won't be easy, but who will go with Him?
"We didn't choose Him, He chose us."
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 52 minutes.
Costumes: 8.
Script: 10, no bad words!
"It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
2. Vanessa DeSilvio as Photina.
3. Shahar Isaac as Simon. "Normal Simon is bad enough, do you think I want to travel with a worried Simon?"
4. Lara Silva as Eden.
5. Paras Patel as Matthew.
6. Erick Avari as Nicodemus.
7.Kirk B.R. Woller as Gaius.
8. Brandon Potter as Quintus.
9. Kian Kavousi as James.
10. George Harrison Xanthis as John.
Cinematography: 8.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8.
Quotes: N/A.
Content: 10, there is a woman who has been married several times and is living with someone who isn't her husband when we meet her, but it is handled perfectly.
Originality: This is based on the true story so I don't want to rate it.
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all ages!
Overall Score: 9.
Well, what a season finale! The way that they did Eden is wonderful, the scenes with her and Jesus made me bawl (pretty much). It talks about how the ones who were not "chosen" still are so important and loved. Ack, it was great.
Jesus' talk with the woman at the well was also prevalent to today, at a time when I haven't been able to get to my place of worship for four months, and Jesus talking about how we can pray anywhere.

I apologize again for the lack of photos! These are the best that I could find.

Samantha put together a Catholic tag as well, so here are my answers to a few of the questions:

How did you get your name? Is there a special story?

My mom and dad had a deal with naming kids. My mom would name all the girls, and my dad would name all the boys. They only had daughters, so mom named all of us. My dad was trying to convince her to name me Alana, but that didn't happen. (He tried again later with my younger sister, and it still didn't happen). But, my mom did name me after two of my dad's relatives, and my first name is after a saint. (Actually, both of them are saints, but my mom didn't know about the saint with my middle name).

Who are your patron saint(s)?

My Confirmation saint is the same as my Baptismal saint, who is the same as my name. Those of you who know, already know... hee hee.

Does your family do any devotions together?

Right now we are doing makeshift Sunday services together. When my sisters and I were little, a hermit would come over and teach us the rosary, which we would do all together. Nowadays, sometimes my sisters and I will do a Divine Mercy Chaplet together.

Have you or anyone in your family dressed up as a saint? What was the best costume?

No, but now I seriously want to! I would want to dress up as Saint Lucy, Saint Dismas, or Mother Teresa. At a Catholic camp that I've been to we had a day where all of the councilers dressed up as saints, but I've never done it myself.

Have you been to the Easter Vigil? What is your favorite part? What about your favorite line of the Exultet?

I've gone to an Easter Mass every year (well, excluding this year, we just streamed it from our Diocese), but I don't believe that any of them have been the Easter Vigil.

How many sacraments have you received? Are there any good stories about them?

Baptism, Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation. Well, for my First Communion I was the first to receive The Body, and I was filled with such happiness and so excited that I had done it...that I forgot about The Precious Blood. As I was walking back to my seat the minister had to grab me...

On my Confirmation day I kind of lost my voice all of a sudden, during the service, so when I was asked what name I wanted to be Confirmed in, I couldn't say anything. Whoops. It still counts.

What are your family traditions around...
Advent and Christmas?

Advent calendar, a wreath that we weave out of bows and put on a wooden cross outside, a Christmas tree, and all the usual things.

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter?

Nothing that is anything special.

Godfamilies/confirmation sponsors?

I've actually only met my Godparents twice. Only once that I remember which was back in 2018. You see, they live in a different country. But, I've sent them lots of letters and talked on the phone a lot (usually on Christmas, Easter, or my birthday).

What is your...
Favorite hymn?

Amazing Grace - by John Newton! This is so beautiful. I also love Morning Has Broken, Eye Has Not Seen, You Are Mine.

Favorite saint quote?

Once when a reporter asked Mother Teresa if she was trying to become a saint she answered, "Yes, shouldn't we all?"

Favorite Bible verse?

2 Corinthians 13:4-13. My favorite part of it is "Love never fails".

Favorite sacrament?

Reconciliation! I love that we are all forgiven during this, no matter what.

Favorite feast day(s)?

The feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as the Assumption!

Favorite Marian Devotion?

The rosary! It has a very special place in my heart.

That wraps it up! Please check HERE for more Catholic posts!

Thanks for reading! Have any of you seen The Chosen? If not, what are you waiting for?


Thursday, July 23, 2020

TV Series Review: The Chosen: Season 1, Episodes 1-4

Hello, hello!

This week is Megan and Samantha's Catholic Liturgy Week! This post is the first of my entries in it!
I'm really excited about this because though I am a Catholic, I don't have many opportunities to talk about it here on my blog. I am participating by reviewing a few episodes of a show recommended to me by a ton of Catholic friends. The TV show is The Chosen!
I first heard of it on Katie Hanna's post HERE, and after more suggestions from others, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did! I'll have my usual reviewing for each one, then some collective thoughts at the bottom.

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. These are spoiler free!

The Chosen: Season 1, Pilot episode: "The Shepherd" (2017):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Shepherds are told the good news of Christmas.
Length: approx. 19 minutes.
I'm going to break away from my usual format for this one because it is really short. But, it is so good! I will be honest, I cried. Usually it takes a lot more time to build up the feelings for me to cry, but this got me. The way that they filmed it is really neat, and ack, it is just wonderful. I watched episode 1 before this (because I didn't know there was a pilot), but if you haven't seen any then this is a great introduction.
Note: There was one inconsistency that I noticed, and maybe my fellow Catholics can help me out on this. I remember part of a discussion one time at a Catholic camp that Mary didn't have labors pains, is that true? In this we see some looks of pain on her face and it made me remember that.

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 1: "I Have Called You By Name" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Lilith was told by her father when she was little that she shouldn't be afraid because she is loved. Years later, with demons in her mind she is terrified and doesn't believe that anymore. Matthew is a tax collector who is disgusted with the people, and Nicodemus is being pressured by Roman officers to encourage new rules into the Jewish rules. Meanwhile, Simon and Andrew are really struggling with taxes. Is the only way to get on the good side of the law to turn against their own people, fishermen like them?
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 52 minutes.
Costumes: 9, all very appropriate for the time period.
Script: 10, no bad words!
'"The pharisees make allowances for that if lives are at stake."
"No one's life is at stake."
"No, no, not this moment, but it's coming."'
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Elizabeth Tabish as Lilith.
2. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
'"You're crazy, you know that?"
"Naw, just desperate."'
3. Noah James as Andrew.
4. Erick Avari as Nicodemus. "I will not continue to use my position of religious influence to benefit those who look down on my people..."
5. Paras Patel as Matthew.
6. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
7. Lara Silva as Eden.
8. Brandon Potter as Praetor Quintus.
9. Kirk B. R. Woller as Gauis.
10. Janis Dardaris as Zohara.
Cinematography: 9, the angles and way that the camera is very different from other things that I've seen, but it gives it a documentary feel that is neat and goes with the story.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8, the theme song is not what you would expect, so I was very surprised!
Quotes: N/A, because I watched it so recently.
Content: 10, there are some fights with gambling. A woman is tortured by demons, but we just see her sadness, nothing graphic.
Originality: This isn't fiction, so I can't rate it here, but I really do like the way and the angle that we see it from.
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all ages!
Overall Score: 9!

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 2: "Shabbat" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Shabbat is a special traditional meal honored by all the Jews. But Simon? He doesn't have time for it. He has to find a way to get out of the hole of debts he has landed himself into. Mary is celebrating it for the first time in a while, and is nervous. Nicodemus thought that the woman's case was impossible, and is starting to doubt his beliefs. What is in a miracle?
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 39 minutes
Costumes: 9, same as last time, fitting for when it was.
Script: 10, free from bad language!
"I was one way...and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between...was Him. So, yes, I will know Him for the rest of my life."
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson, and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene.
2. Erick Avari as Nicodemus
3. Paras Patel as Matthew.
4. Noah James as Andrew.
'"What is that? You happy?"
"No, I'm handsome, I just happen to be wearing a happy face."'
5. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
6. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
7. Lara Silva as Eden.
8. Brandon Potter as Praetor Quintus.
9. Giavani Cairo as Thaddeus.
10. Anne Beyer as Shula.
Cinematography: 9, still such a neat perspective and style!
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8, I am beginning to warm up to the music. I have the theme stuck in my head.
Quotes: N/A because I just saw this a few days ago.
Content: 10, we see the after affects of someone getting beaten up (a cut on his face), but that's it!
Originality: Same as above. This episode was pretty much purely invented for the show, and not much happens, but I really liked seeing more into each of the characters's lives.
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: Open to all people of all ages!
Overall Score: 9!

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 3: "Jesus Loves the Little Children" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Abigail finds that a stranger is living in the woods. She shows Him to her friends and He begins to teach them things as they help with His wood work. Abigail is always asking questions, but the one that He keeps answering mysteriously is what He is going to do.
"Joshua, ask Him questions. He's nice."
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 30 minutes
Costumes: 9.
Script: 10, free from all vulgar words and phrases!
"Everyone has a much larger job than just their trade."
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Reina Ozbay as Abigail.
2. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
3. Noah Cottrell as Joshua ("The Brave").
4. Eshan Inamdar as Child #1. (This is going to bother me that I can't find their names)
5. Jojo Regina as Child #2.
6. Nyah Marie Johnson as Child #3.
7. Gabriel Putnam as Child #4.
8. Stella Rose as Child #5.
9. Alycya Magana as Abigail's Mom.
10. David DeLao as Abigail's Father.
Cinematography: 8, this was the episode where the cinematography started to bother me. There was wonderful advice and wise words, but I could only focus on how the camera wouldn't stop wiggling.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8.
Quotes: N/A.
Content: 10, absolutely nothing bad here!
Originality: Like all of these, I loved the perspective shown here! Children coming to Jesus has always been one of my favorite parts of the Bible, and they showed it so beautifully!
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone. This one is especially good for, you guessed it, children!
Age Range: From as young to as old as you can imagine.
Overall Score: 9.
I'm going to mention this later, but this episode was so sweet! I really loved it because it made me feel loved. The way they portrayed Jesus and the children was wonderful.

The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 4: "The Rock on Which It Is Built" (2019):
Based on: the true stories from the Bible.
Simon's conscience has begun to catch up with him. He decides to back out on his promise to the Romans and is punished for it. More is coming unless he can lower his tax debts, but no one will help him. His brother is sure that he saw the Messiah, but there is no time for that. And on top of all that, now the tax collector Matthew has started following him around. Simon yells his frustration out to the God he is sure doesn't hear him. What more can he do?
Genre: Drama, Historical, Family.
Length: approx. 49 minutes.
Costumes: 9.
Script: 10, clean of anything to make you angry. (Well, it might just be me who gets angry when I hear bad words).
Crew: Directed by: Dallas Jenkins. Written by: Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson.
Starring (Reminder, with TV shows I only list the top 10 most important characters for each episode):
1. Shahar Isaac as Simon.
2. Noah James as Andrew.
3. Paras Patel as Matthew. "You people want to be ruled. You want an excuse to complain. It's part of your nature."
4. Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.
5. Lara Silva as Eden.
6. Nick Shakoour as Zebedee.
7. Shayan Sobhian as James.
8. George Harrison Xanthis as John.
9. Erick Avari as Nicodemus.
10. David Amito as John the Baptist.
Cinematography: 9.
Cinematography by: Akis Konstantakopoulos.
Music: 8.
Quotes: Let me just say that I was waiting for the "Fishers of men" line the whole time, and it did not disappoint. So good!
Content: 10, a man gets hurt by a sword.
Originality: Getting more and more backstory on "Simon" is always good!
Good For: All Christians as well as non-Christians! This is a perfectly great show for everyone.
Age Range: I highly encourage all ages to watch this.
Overall Score: 9.

I'm sorry for the lack of photos! I couldn't find many good ones!


Where to begin? A multiple season show about the Apostles, but from their perspective? Sign me up!
The creator, Dallas Jenkins, said: "People usually think about three disciples: Peter, Judas the betrayer, and all ten others." That's pretty true. I mean, I usually think about Mary Magdalene, too, but this is so awesome to see each of them! We do think of Matthew as one of the Gospel writers, and I knew he was a tax collector, but did I ever give him another thought? Nope. His character has had a really interesting take so far, and I can't wait to see where it goes. I also really like the addition of Eden. Another set of eyes to view Peter!

I really am enjoying it so far. I recommend it to all of you!

Sorry that this last part is a little jumbled. It's late at night and I need to get this up. But, I'll have another post on it very soon! You probably won't even have time to read this one before it's up. If you have any questions on this show or Catholicism in general, I would love to answer your questions!

For more posts about the Catholic Liturgy, check HERE! Thanks to Samantha and Megan for hosting!

Thanks for reading! Have any of you seen this?


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Four Years Ago: Movies Meet Their Match

Hello, all you movie fans!

Guess what day it is. I know you know, but why is it important to me? Well, it turns out that I've been blogging for four years! On July 19th, 2016 I started this little space for book and movie rants. As I have found this year, time is a lie. There is no way that much time could have passed!
Am I going crazy or is it the voice of Doom calling?
So, yes, it is my blogoversary! How are we going to celebrate this time around? Like we always do, by looking at the changes I've made! Every year my posts are the same, but if you want, you can check out these celebrations from previous years: Hello book and movie fans (Original first post), One Year Ago (2017), Two Years Ago (2018), & Three Years Ago (2019). (Note to self, find a better name for the titles of these posts).

Followers: 62 (Whoop whoop! You are all awesome!)
You are truly marvelous!
All time page views: 57,014 (Wowza!)
Viewed by:
United States - 28080, France - 4149, Russia - 3515, Canada - 3385, Ukraine - 1984. Plus a ton of others that are too many to count!
Posts: 362 (this is the 363rd!)
My 5 favorite posts:
5. Movie Review: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) [Yes, I just published this two days ago, so I am self promoting. Actually, all of this is self promoting. Anyway, I really liked how this turned out so I recommend that you go read it!]
My boy Jimmy is definitely in there! Lately I've also been into Cary Grant, but that's for another day...


Each year I become a better blogger, so let's see what I've improved.
(Original will be in black, 2016-17's changes are in green2017-18's changes are in blue2018-19's changes are in maroon/purple, and this years changes will be in orange (if there are any!).

MOVIE EXAMPLE: Everything is either 1-10. 10 is the best.
Disclaimer (Guarantee)
Some kind of movie.
Based on:
(I also might have some history on the movie or book.) The movie plot.
Costumes: 6
Costumes by: (Only if I can find who designed them).
My favorite:
Script: 4
Crew: Directed by: Produced by: (I added this in 2017, but took it out in 2018) Written by: (This year I condensed this. Going for simpler, ya know?)
Actors: (Starring:) 9
Cinematography by:
Music by:
(If I think there could be better actors I will put them here.) (*laughing* This never happens! I completely forgot about it)
Good Quotes: "And I keyn't stan' 'em." (Sorry, I couldn't find any other way to get the accent right.)
Oscars won:
Storyline: Content: 2 ( I really like it to be original or if they are doing something based on a book, I will rate it on how close to the book it is.)
Originality: (I split these categories in two do it was easier to understand).
Good For:
Age Range: (I added this because of Kara's post).
Overall Score:
Bonus thoughts: (This is my favorite that I added in 2018, because I actually get to tell you my [spoiler free] thoughts! Can you believe that I didn't do that for so long?)

And for books pretty much the same but with:
BOOK EXAMPLE: 1-10. 10 is the best.
Disclaimer (Guarantee)
Book name.
Characters: 7
(I will probably list my favorite)
Words: 3
(I like authors who use lots of words.)
Storyline: Content: 9
(This is completely based on how I liked it. Tell me your opinion too!)
Good For:
Age Range:
Overall Score:
Bonus thoughts:
Pretty much the same.
This is me yelling at all the confusing versions of myself.

As you can see, my review system has taken awhile to get a solid format. It isn't even there yet! When I first started reviewing things I thought that my reviews were decent (spoiler alert: They were really cringy). I was super picky about what I wanted to see in a review, though, weirdly enough, I never read other reviews because I was scared that I'd read spoilers. I just wanted warnings on content, but I didn't actually want to know what the story was about because there could be a spoiler in there! Oh the horror! In these last few years I've read a lot of reviews and I now know what I like in there. I'm allowing myself to be a little more loose with it and just say how awesome it is sometimes (Like when I talked about This Beautiful Fantastic (2017) and Seventh Heaven (1937)) while still staying spoiler free. I've learned that I can have an opinion in addition to just talking about the "cleanliness" of the films. It's been a wild ride so far, and I have some ideas for improvements in the future! Any suggestions?
Pondering what the future holds.

Currently about me:
I am reading: Prairie Lotus - by Linda Sue Park.
I am watching: Only films between 1934 and 1954 this month because July is #CleanMovieMonth2020!
My Top 5 Favorite Books:
Anne of Green Gables - by L. M. Montgomery
Holes - by Louis Sachar
North & South - by Elisabeth Gaskell
The Hobbit - by J. R. R. Tolkien

My Top 5 Favorite Movies:
(Both of these lists tend to change, so keep an eye on the My Favorites page for all the recent updates)
Just me laughing at how sneaky I am. Who knows why I do these things?
And that about wraps up this post! Thank you so much to all of you who have stuck around for years as well as anyone who is new around here! I hope that you continue to enjoy my reviews and find a lot of books to read and movies to watch!


Friday, July 17, 2020

Movie Review: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Good day, readers!

Usually when there is a movie that is based on a book, I like to review both and compare them. Today I'll be just reviewing a movie, with some thoughts on the book later. Read on, to find all about my thoughts on my first Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free!

The Grapes of Wrath (1940):
Based on: the book by John Steinbeck.
Tom Joad returns home from the penitentiary to find that his folks are being shoved off of their land. The family plans to drive out to California where there is lots of work. They endure a lot - having twelve people in one truck over that long journey, and along the way the number diminishes. In California they find that the hardships aren't over as greed rules there. Is the only way to stop it by going on strike, or will that lead them to further trouble?
'"Is he tellin' the truth?"
"The truth for him, he ain't makin' it up."
"Is it the truth for us?"
"I don't know."'
Genre: Drama.
Length: approx. 127 minutes.
Costumes:  8, there are a few times when people aren't wearing shirts, but other than that good. Very accurate for the time frame.
Script: 10, there was not one bad word in this whole film, which was such a relief!
"My dirt. It's no good, but it's mine. All mine."
Crew: Directed by: John Ford. Written by: Nunnally Johnson & John Steinbeck.
Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.
Jane Darwell as Ma Joad. "I ain't never gonna be scairt no more."
John Carradine as Jim Casy.
Charley Grapewin as Grandpa Joad.
Zeffie Tilbury as Grandma Joad.
Russell Simpson as Pa Joad.
Frank Darien as Uncle John Joad.
Dorris Bowdon as Rosasharn Rivers.
Eddie Quillan as Connie Rivers.
O.Z. Whitehead as Al Joad.
Darryl Hickman as Winfield Joad.
Shirley Mills as Ruthie Joad.
Frank Sully as Noah Joad.
I don't think this is a scene from the movie, just a promotional photo.
John Qualen as Muley Bates.
Roger Imhof as Thomas.
Grant Mitchell as Caretaker.
Charles D. Brown as Wilkie.
John Arledge as Davis.
Ward Bond as Needles Policeman.
Harry Tyler as Bert.
William Pawley as Bill.
Charles Tannen as Joe.
Eddie Waller as Proprietor.
Paul Guilfoyle as Floyd.
David Hughes as Frank.
Joseph Sawyer as Keene Ranch Foreman.
Adrian Morris as Hiring Agent.
Cinematography: 10, okay, so this cinemtography is incredible. The lighting is so real! Usually in movies when someone lights a match then the whole room becomes bright, which is not realistic. One scene here that really was amazing was with candlelight. Ah, I had shivers.
This was the best I could find, but it isn't even close to how good it is.
Cinematography by: Gregg Toland.
Music: 8, I liked the use of the songs within it, even if I don't quite remember the score.
Music by: Alfred Newman.
Notes: I will address this later, but I just want to mention that there are a ton of differences from the book.
"Seems like a lot of times the government cares more about dead people than livin' ones."
Quotes: N/A, as I just watched it yesterday. One quote that was revelant to today's issues, was: "Wherever there's a cop beating up a guy, I'll be there." Food for thought.
Oscars won: 2: Best Director (John Ford), Best Supporting Actress (Jane Darwell).
Content: 9, there is smoking, murder, and one suggestive thing, but believe me, this is tame! The book is chock full of many more problems. Because of that I'm giving this such a high ranking.
"...A human being couldn't stand to be so miserable..."
Originality: I'm not sure. It seems like I've seen other movies where a family moves, but not in the conditions of this. I'll give it an 8.
Good For: Black and white movie lovers, anyone who has had to move, anyone who has lost family members.
Age Range: It is clean, but what happens in the story is hard to grasp. I know I wouldn't have gotten any of it a few years ago, so maybe for people above 15? It depends on each one, though.
Overall Score: 8.5!

This is my entry in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society's (PEPS) Code Classics Blogathon!

At first when I signed up for this blogathon I wasn't sure what to talk about. There are so many options! Finally I chose The Grapes of Wrath as my subject because my mom has been telling me to read the book for forever. As I mentioned in my intro, I had planned for this to be one of my Book vs. Movie Reviews, so what made me change my mind?

Earlier this week I dove into the book and started reading. A few chapters in I hated it. When I can define that I actually "hate" a book, then that's pretty serious. It was so painful to read! The language (at one point a character said, "Now I cuss all I want, any time I want, an' it does a fella good to cuss if he wants to." and I was ripping my hair out)! The overall content! I couldn't handle it. About halfway through my mom showed me mercy. She said that I didn't have to finish it, but that I did have to watch the film. Last night, my older sister, Em, and I sat down to watch this. She read the book a few years ago, but had been waiting until I read it to watch the movie. (Note, kudos to anyone who was able to finish this book! Bravo! I salute you for your perseverance). What would I rate it if I allowed myself to rate books that I don't finish?

Now, the movie is very different from what I read of the book. Steinbeck alternates between the story chapters and chapters that are metaphors on life. They can be as simple as a turtle walking (one of his most famous scenes), or about guys selling cars. Let me get this straight, I actually liked those parts of the book. Steinbeck's writing style is really neat, and I would prefer to read a whole book just like that without the actual storyline. While they do have a few bad words or suggestive lines, they are squeaky clean compared to the rest of the book. Because they are so different, the filmmakers made the choice to not include that part in the movie. They did manage to work one into the plot, which I was impressed with.

Back to other differences. A strange thing, I'm not saying this is a bad thing or a good thing, is that they moved around a lot of the events of the book. Instead of A coming before B, it went B, C, A, etc. My sister and I aren't really sure why they did this, but it worked out and you could see a fluid storyline. This shows how even previously written stories are so open for interpretation and adaptations! This movie is just a little over two hours, and that's a small time frame to put a 400+ page book into. Therefore, they obviously had to cut some things (besides the metaphor chapters). According to my sister, they cut the ending. She said that the movie ended about four chapters before the end of the book! She also says that I now have to read the ending, dash it all. It seemed like a good ending for the movie, but it's weird that they cut the original. I know that in my writing, endings are really hard for me, so when I come up with a good one I really like it. I wouldn't like my ending changed, but maybe Steinbeck didn't mind because of the message it got out. This was made the year after he wrote it, so if he objected he could’ve said something, right?

They also had to cut characters, which is understandable. For anyone who hadn’t read the book (or parts of it), you might have noticed a different head count from the start. They didn’t mention when or why one of the characters (I won’t tell you which) left. That really confused my sister and me. Since we had both read that part in the book we knew why, but they never explained it, or even acknowledged it. It seems like it would’ve been easy enough to say, “------- won’t go any further.” and leave it at that. Did they mean to do that and just forgot? The world will never know.

My sister was mentioning, though, that because we don’t hear about how “bad” the characters are in the beginning, then we don’t see their full character arc. I thought that the actors did a good job of playing all of the characters and showing how they aren’t the best people that they could be, but without having to go into all of the details. This is my strong feeling on characters: (Note, we all have different meanings of the word bad. Because of that I will be putting it in quotations each time, but I am usually talking about my personal moral standards.)
It’s fine for characters to do “bad” things if they are shown as a villain/antagonist, or if they are shown as trying to do better, or if they are eventually “redeemed” (‘cause really, I want everyone to become the best version of themselves!).
When reading the book I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to “root” for Tom and others, or not. That was frustrating, because I can tell you that I wasn’t feeling like it. I’m not sure how to express this, but I feel like the film version did a better job of this because of its Code influence.
My sister to me: "You, madame, are a walking contradiction, and I find that fascinating." (paraphrase)

A few things to mention on specific characters:
Jim Casy: Em doesn’t think that his character's journey was done justice compared to the book, because of a few things taken out. I’m trying to repress what I read, so no comment from me here.
I'm green, Em's blue.

Ma Joad: I’ve heard my parents reference Ma Joad all my life. It wasn’t until my younger sister was thinking about reading the book last year that I realized she was from this! Jane Darwell definitely deserved her Oscar for this role! She made me cry, which I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have done that while reading the book. What really struck me with this story (and what I will hold onto as my impression that I got from this for years to come), is Ma’s love for her family. No matter what happens to them, or what they do, she still loves them.
"I don't want a mean son."
That was inspiring for me. I really relate to her want of keeping the family together no matter what.

This is Code era, so it is so clean! I can’t even imagine a movie version of this nowadays, but I do know that it would probably be closer to the book in content levels, which I wouldn’t like. I'm always telling Em about the Code, and she thinks it's interesting but isn't as into it as I am. After we finished watching this she said, "I appreciate the Code compliance in this case!" I can't tell you how much I do, too! I am so glad that I was able to enjoy a version of this story without all of that horrible content. Thank you to the Code for its perspective!

Well, that got really rambly at the end. Thanks for sticking through it, if you're still here! Interested in other Code films based on classics? Check out the other posts HERE!

If any of you have seen The Grapes of Wrath (1940) or managed to read the book, I would love to discuss it with you! Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles