Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shantell and Macoy Young, and their Baby Boy

My sweet neighbor, Shantell Young and her baby boy whom she had been carrying for four months, passed away yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with her good parents Heidi and Deloy Brady, and her siblings as well as her husband Macoy, and his family. Macoy is still in serious condition in the hospital. Please consider helping with funeral and medical expenses on their GoFundMe page.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Freetown- Movie Review

Freetown, by Three Coin Productions and Go Films, is based on the true story of eight missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who find themselves in the middle of a civil war in Liberia, and realize that they need to get out.

Freetown (c) 2015 

While there were actually eight missionaries who escaped the war in Liberia, for the purpose of simplifying things for the movie, the number of missionaries in the film was taken down to six.

The names of the eight elders were Elder Marcus Menti, Elder Joseph Myers, Elder Taylor Selli, Elder Joseph Forkpah, Elder Roverto Chanipo, Elder Dave Gonquoi,  Elder John Gaye, and Elder Prince Nyanforh. With the help of a local church leader, Phillip Abubakar, the missionaries set off on a journey to escape to the safety of Freetown in Sierra Leon. But their troubles are compounded by a rebel fighter who is intent on killing one of the missionaries simply for belonging to the Krahn tribe, a tribe with which the  rebel fighter has had bad blood.

I found myself rooting for the missionaries as they escaped the war torn country, the bunch of them crammed together in one little car. The fact that it was based on a true story is particularly moving. I thought the music was well done, and the acting fantastic.

I recommend this movie to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and also people of other faiths who enjoy inspiring stories about good people overcoming difficult and dangerous situations. If you have watched and enjoyed The Saratov Approach, or The Cokeville Miracle, you would enjoy this movie.

Far World: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Far World Water Keep (c) 2008 by J. Scott Savage
While I have read Far World Water Keep  by J. Scott Savage many times, I haven't taken the opportunity to listen to it on CD until just recently. I am very glad I did! Mark Wright does a great job bringing Marcus and Kyja to life along with the other characters with whom they interact. I especially enjoy how he does Riph Raph's voice!

Marcus is a boy who has grown up on Earth, and who can't use his left arm and right leg. He needs a wheelchair to get around, though he can scoot pretty quickly when he needs to. Kyja is a girl who has grown up on FarWorld, and who can't do magic, though everyone else can!

The way these two kids work together to save both their worlds from the Dark Circle is inspiring, and teaches young people (without being too didactic) that they too can face and overcome hard things! I recommend this book, written and audible, to anyone who enjoys fantasy for young readers.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Battle for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Battle for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi is the third book in the Wondla series, preceded by The Search for Wondla and A Hero for Wondla. I have not read the first two. I found The Battle for Wondla at my library, and picked it as it looked interesting. Because of not having read the first two, and there not being a summary of what happened in the first two at the beginning of this book (or at least in the audio version, as I listened to it) I was slightly lost for a little while, but was able to piece together what was most important.
Battle for Wondla, The, (c) 2014 by Tony DiTerlizzi
Eva Nine is working hard to stop the evil Loroc from taking over the city of Solas and the rest of the world of Orbona, but she has first to convince the Queen O-Ho that her intentions are not wicked as the Queen has been duped by Loroc into thinking that he is her ally, and wants to help, and that Eva Nine is the enemy.

The world building that DiTerlizzi does is fantastic, on par with Brandon Sanderson's world building skills. The books is clean, and written for teens and young adults. People who enjoy clean sci-fi would enjoy this book, and doubtless the two that come before it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

1931 Dracula

Dracula (c)1931
The 1931 movie version of Dracula, with the title character acted by Bela Lugosi, produced by Universal, and directed by Tod Browning is a classic movie that will probably be famous for ages to come as a wonderfully made and acted story in its genre. The story changes a little, with Renfield going to Transylvania instead of Jonathan Harker, likely done to explain Renfield's insanity later. As might be expected, Renfield's excursion to Dracula's castle doesn't go as well for him as Harker's does in the book. After this, we get an exciting story with characters recognized from the book but changed a little to adapt to the screen. We're missing Arthur and Quincey, but we still get John Seward, no longer a twenty-something young doctor, but a middle-aged man, and the apparently widowed father of Mina. He's still in charge of the same asylum as in the book, and Renfield is a patient there. Jonathan Harker is still there, as is Lucy, whose fate is the same as in the book. The heroic Van Helsing played by Edward Van Sloan  is also one of the main protagonists in the fight to save Mina from Dracula.

I enjoy the movie every time I watch it, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys slightly scary classical movies with little blood, and no foul language.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew (c) 1955
I reviewed The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis back in January, but wanted to review it again, because it is such an uplifting book that, while a fantasy, teaches important truths. Diggory and Polly are tricked by Diggory's Uncle Andrew into setting off on an adventure between worlds, and as they travel, they come into contact with Jadis, an evil, power hungry queen from a dying planet who grabs them, and forces them against their wills to take her along with them. After wreaking havoc in London for a few hours, Jadis is transported by Diggory and Polly who are trying to protect their home, into a new world called Narnia. Along with them, come a horse named Strawberry, Strawberry's owner, a cabby named Frank, and Diggory's Uncle Andrew.

They come at the very birth of Narnia, which is being created by Aslan, the Lion, the Son of the Emperor Beyond the Sea. Aslan, clearly a analogy of Jesus Christ, sends Polly and Diggory on a mission to get an apple that will become a tree that will protect Narnia from Jadis' evil, the evil queen who ran off into the wilderness when she realized she could not hurt Aslan.

Meanwhile, while Frank, Polly, Diggory, and eventually Strawberry (who becomes a talking and flying horse) can understand Aslan's speech and the speech of the talking animals he creates, Uncle Andrew cannot. It isn't chance that makes him unable to understand. As the narration explains, from the moment their group found themselves in Narnia and started to hear Aslan's song calling the world to life, Uncle Andrew (who had already made selfish, unrighteous choices already) denied to himself that it was a song, and continued denying it after the light started to increase, and he saw Aslan and the other talking animals. He denied so much that Aslan's words were a song, that Uncle Andrew reached a point where he could not hear the song, and only heard, in his own mind, roars and growls, and from the talking animals, only various animal sounds. C. S. Lewis was a brilliant teacher who taught great truths with his stories, and this particular part of the story teaches me that in order to be able to hear, to sense truth, I need to tune myself to learn it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula, (c) 1897
Dracula, written by Bram Stoker and published in 1897 is a frightening story about a vampire named Dracula, who was based on a real life man named Vlad Dracula. He was also known as Vlad the Impaler, because of his most often used form of execution.

Dracula begins with one of the main protagonists, Jonathan Harker going to Dracula's castle, thinking that the man he's going to see is simply a Transylvanian noble who is looking to buy property in England. He quickly learns that he is in great danger, and though the situation is terrifying, he is able to keep his wits about himself, and finds a way to escape Dracula's three wives who were planning on devouring him, as Dracula and multiple coffins are carted away to begin his journey to England.

Meanwhile, his fiance, Mina's friend, Lucy Westenra is murdered by Dracula, and Jonathan, Mina, Lucy's fiance Arthur, two friends, John Seward and Quincey Morris, and the wise and brave Dr. Abraham Van Helsing set out to stop Dracula from doing the same to others.

One line from Dracula that I really like, is something Van Helsing says in the text: "Devils, or no devils, or all the devils at once, it matters not. We fight him all the same."

What I get out of the book Dracula, is that it is possible to face difficult, even terrifying situations, and cruel people who are certain they will succeed while their victims fail, and still overcome the designs and plans of these cruel people.

Throughout the book, the characters, especially Van Helsing, repeatedly petition God, and reference Diety as a source of hope and help, and I like that. I don't necessarily agree with the idea that someone can be made evil and unworthy by the actions of someone else as the book implies, but I like the idea that with courage, and with the blessings of a benevolent higher power, cruelty can be stopped. Maybe not right away, maybe not as quickly as we hope, but it can still happen.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- Vernal Theater

The Vernal Theater, which shows fantastic plays using a local cast, recently finished showing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I went with two of my children on the 20th, and enjoyed a great performance. 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers follows the troubles and triumphs of Adam and his six brothers in their quest for romance. At the beginning of the story Adam meets and marries Milly, a spunky, brave woman who isn't afraid of adventure. But his brothers don't have it so easy. The way they set about meeting and courting girls they're interested in sets a wedge between Milly and Adam, as well as between their whole family and the rest of the town! Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fun play that I recommend to anyone who enjoys fun musicals.

The Vernal Theater regularly shows some fantastic plays. 
The next one coming up is Wait Until Dark, and will be played during Halloween time. It sounds like a pretty scary play! I don't care much for scary plays or movies, but if you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy it if it's as well done as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!!