Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

                                                  A Review of Theresa Linden's

A supernatural thriller about a lady's visions of a soul from purgatory who appears in an empty house in the countryside and won't go away. Fun stuff, not gonna lie.
Basically, a woman in her early thirties, Jeannie Lyons, is unceremoniously kicked out of her home by her older brother and moves to a home in the country. Jeannie is lonely and unsatisfied with life, and she has an inability to relinquish the memory of her dead parents, whom she loved very deeply. Her brother, Erwin, is concerned that she will end up living the rest of her life as a single cat lady, possibly with psychiatric problems and a dash of schizophrenia. Jeannie's niece once saw her dearly beloved aunt talking to the vision of Jeannie's dead mom, and the frightened little girl told this to Erwin's wife and himself. Erwin, with a quickly growing family, is determined that a new house and maybe a decent guy will snap Jeannie out of her tendency to live in the past and maybe give her something to look forward to in the future. Except the new house he finds for her is anything but helpful in the endeavor for mental stability and happiness, as Jeannie begins to hear noises every night. It is not long before a dark figure appears at six o'clock in the morning and six o'clock at night, frightening Jeannie nearly to death and causing her to question her sanity. Who is this ghastly specter, what does he want, and what should Jeannie do?
I was irritated for the first two or three chapters of this book. I have read all of the books in the wonderful West Brothers series by Theresa Linden, and I really liked them (even loved some of them), so my expectations were high.
But by the time I had been introduced to Jeannie, her family, and her troubles, I was growing annoyed at the fact that I hated everyone in her family and found her tendency to frequent emotional breakdowns exasperating, to say the least. Her niece Danita is scared of every darn thing and her nephew Gabriel finds delight in taking advantage of this fact, tormenting his sister whenever he can. Neither is disciplined, and their mother and the wife of Erwin, Trella, has the audacity to be angry at Jeannie when Jeannie is more concerned with the well-being of her heirloom lamp than she is with her niece's (or nephew's) arm when the little monster runs and break the poor old lamp. Gosh darn it woman, I wouldn't care about the little brat either! Needs a slappity slap slap.
Now that my frustration and harsh heart and abusive tendencies have been brought to the fore front, I'll bring you the good news about this book. The annoying family soon goes away and the book takes a exciting and terrifying turn. The noises start, as well as Jeannie's bed being shaken and waking her from sleep. A dark shape appear in the corner of Jeannie's bedroom, a shape that blends into the drapes almost completely. Jeannie's first reaction to to this is not to politely ask the good ghost what his business is in her house, but to run out of the room at light speed. I cannot blame her. I went to the bathroom after I read a chapter or six of this book and I must say, I saw movement in every crease of the shower curtain, in every roll of the towel. I would've been too scared too sleep, but I was so tired I fell asleep before I could convince myself to be afraid of the dark. Anyway, I will try to restore structure to this review.
Because Erwin fears his little sister will lead an ever lonely and miserable existence if she does not try to get a grip on her life soon, he makes it his duty to set her up with a gentleman named Oliver. Oliver was one of my favorite aspects of the story, as it doesn't seem when you first meet him that he will be an important character. More likely just a comic sideshow. He's not bad looking, slightly awkward, has a beard and loves photography. He carries his camera with him everywhere and he meets Jeannie when Erwin invites him over to the family house for dinner. Jeannie immediately discounts him as a love interest possibility, and so we do too. Very well played on the author's part, I must say. He helps Erwin with Jeannie's move to the new house in the country, and Jeannie is slightly concerned that he has feelings for her. She briefly attempts to think of a gentle yet firm way to tell him he's okay, but not her type. Yet when the ghostly occurrences begin, Oliver is the only one to believe Jeannie. Her sister refers her to a counselor, her brother says she has an overactive imagination and needs to get a grip, and even her priest suggests professional help is needed and has a hard time believing her fantastic tales. Oliver knows Jeannie is not crazy. And he also knows that there is life after this life, and although generally people from the next life don't come visiting this one, these things do happen.

   Crucifix — Catholic Sacramentals

The next time the ghost comes to visit, Jeannie forces herself to observe him. He does not seem evil, but his pathetic, miserable and otherworldly presence is too much too bear, and so Jeannie once again fails to discover why this specter continues to visit her and banishes him from her sight.
As time goes on and the visits continue, Jeannie, with the help of ever helpful and protective Oliver, begins to unveil a startling story and starts to realize that when she prays for the souls of the dead, she doesn't understand what is happening. She doesn't understand that though she goes to church every week and fancies she loves God, her own soul is a mess of bitterness and a lack of forgiveness. She hold onto the past and neglects the present and the only way to banish the absolutely terrifying ghost is to become a real Christian, with all the trimmings. 
The apparitions to Jeannie in this book are based on the real life visions of purgatory that appeared to Eugenie von der Leyen, a German mystic from the 1800's. Excluding biblical examples and teachings, purgatory has always been one of the most logical teachings of the Catholic church to me. Nothing unclean enters heaven. There are those who cannot enter heaven, and yet it seems unbelievable for them to go to Hell. Those who see God just before they die, who repent, must have somewhere to go, and so in purgatory their evil works are burned up and they are cleansed through fire and the prayers, requests to God pleaded by others. Makes sense.
Tortured Soul is incredibly enjoyable and it makes me happy that someone is writing about purgatory, a strangely forgotten place and teaching of the Church, though it should not be. I think it is not mere coincidence that no one thinks about the poor souls locked in purgatory, pleading for our prayers, because they cannot pray themselves. The Devil doesn't like it when we sincerely think about the not-yet-lost souls and purposefully ask God to deliver them. He doesn't like it at all. I don't think the book has achieved the status of Great Modern Art (like that of The Golden Princess and the Moon), but it is an inspiration to all Christians and an exciting supernatural thriller that homeschoolers like me can read without having too many nightmares for weeks to come. I enjoyed it immensely, and I think you will too.
Until next time, God bless you and make sure you don't move into creepy big houses in the middle of the woods by yourself. There are always ghosts there, without fail. Better safe than sorry, I always (never) say.

~ Irene

Friday, April 16, 2021

Thank Goodness for Good Men Blogathon 2021



Hey there ladies and gents! We (that's right, Anna is helping), are pleased to announce a collaboration with Megan Chappie of The Pen and the Cross in a brand new blogathon, Thank Goodness for Good Men! It will take place from June 25th to June 28th, 2021. Megan over there on her blog did a nice little announcement explaining the whole deal, but I'll also do a little explanation. The following posters are the one's Megan made, and the one above is the one Anna made.

Inspired by 2021 being the year of St. Joseph, we decided to dedicate a whole blogathon to the subject of good and righteous men. You can write a character examination of a favorite fictional male character and what makes them special and good, a post about a saint or other historical figure, or just a list gushing about all the best men you ever seen in T.V. shows. Whatever you want!

Feel free to take any of the buttons we or Megan made and post them everywhere on your own blog if you have one!
We are excited for this, and this'll be Anna's and mine first blogathon (that we've hosted/cohosted) so make sure you join so we don't feel like failures. It'll be a lot of fun, I know. 
There will also be a Catholic Blog Week from May 23rd to May 30th, so make sure you check that out as well. The details are on The Pen and the Cross.

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us ☦

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Gulag Archipelago Vol.1 by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 My Thoughts On:

Me trying to explain this is like a flea standing on the bank of Lake Superior and trying to swallow her waters. Very vast. Very depressing. Very impressive. 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn explains in three volumes (I've only read the first as of yet), each volume six to seven hundred pages, the madness of Soviet Russia.
What is an archipelago? Wikipedia defines it as 'A chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered island.' Solzhenitsyn explains the great prison structure of the USSR as if it were an archipelago, a chain of gulags stretched out across Russia surrounded by an ocean of absolute misery. He himself was a victim of the prison system for many years, and during his time there, he strived to remember everything. The people, the places, the treatment of the prisoners, everything.

Ah, Communism. We must crush the petty bourgeoisie, we must elevate the poor worker. No, not the worker, the working class! Here we are all one, one great mass! And in order to elevate the downtrodden, well, a few sacrifices must be made. After all, our cause is just. 
That's the darn thing about communism. We're helping the working class, and the next thing you know, you're walking fifteen miles through the Siberian snow in the dark back to your unheated cattle car with maybe nothing but sandals on your frozen feet, no food in your stomach, and don't even think about water. What's wrong with the snow? And you must wonder: if everyone here, one's compatriots in prison, are all just unfortunate collateral, in the way of the communist utopia, then who is left to enjoy the utopia?
Not the estimated tens, likely hundreds, of millions dead, that's for sure.

I had trouble understanding some sections of this book, mostly those that involved the law and lots of Russian names and places (that's enough to confuse anyone) but the parts describing the the arrests, the interrogations, the tortures, and the prison are easy enough to understand, although not to comprehend. It's insane, completely and utterly insane. Everybody knows about Nazi Germany and its concentration camps, but fewer and fewer people are around who could tell you what a Gulag is. The Soviet Union was arguably worse than Nazi Germany. As Solzhenitsyn explains somewhere in the book, in this Communist utopia, there was never a question of guilt or innocence. In Hitler's Germany, a woman was tortured and interrogated and if, after many days she did not answer the questions given to her, they might let her go. She did not know what they wanted to know. In the USSR, your interrogators never expected you to know anything. That wasn't the point. The only point was terror and utter domination of the Russian people. 
Solzhenitsyn is a very brilliant writer, and achieved a level of perception about the world and people that hopefully none of us will achieve until we are dead. Here are some excerpts from the book I liked or thought were particularly illuminating:

'And how can you bring it home to them? By an inspiration? By a vision? A dream? Brothers! People! Why has life been given you? In the deep, deaf stillness of midnight, the doors of the death cells are being swung open - and great-souled people are being dragged out to be shot. On all the railroads of the country this very minute, right now, people who have just been fed salt herring are licking their dry lips with bitter tongues. They dream of the happiness of stretching out one's legs and of the relief one feels after going to the toilet. In Orotukan the earth thaws only in summer and only to the depth of three feet - and only then can they bury the bones of those who died during the winter. And you have the right to arrange your own life under the blue sky and the hot sun, to get a drink of water, to stretch, to travel wherever you like without a convoy.
And then a little bit later:
If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes see, and if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart - and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in ager; after all, you simply do not know: it might be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted in their memory!
And here we have the description of Communism supreme:
"Where are our things?" they cried. "Your things you left at home!" some chief or other bellowed at them. "In camp nothing belongs to you. Here in camp we have communism! Forward march leader!"
And if it was "communism," then what was there for them to object to? That is what they had dedicated their lives to.

Until next time, God bless you and keep you safe.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Fanny by Gaslight (1944)


Fanny by Gaslight, also known as Man of Evil in the United States (both terrible titles) is what they tell me is a melodrama, so I must say I am rather embarrassed to admit that I like it. Don't be confused by the title's similarity to the more famous movie 'Gaslight' that came out in the same year, starring Ingrid Bergman. Both are good movies, but I'm here to talk about the one starring Phyllis Calvert today. Now I shall attempt to summarize a pretty complex plot. Also, I hereby warn of spoilers ahead. Ahem:
Fanny Hopwood has lived apart from her parents at a boarding school since she was a young girl, but now, on her nineteenth birthday, Fanny is returning to her London home. The happy homecoming she expects is horrendously shattered when Fanny's father is pushed into the way of an oncoming carriage and killed during a street brawl. Soon after, Fanny's mother dies, but not before she learns that the Hopwoods are not her biological parents but her foster parents, commissioned to care for her by a man who is her true father. Due to the clandestine nature of Fanny's conception and birth, the girl's real father chose to keep her existence a secret after his unmarried love died. Fanny is quite at a loss as to what to do with her life, her respectability tainted on one hand by her foster father's questionable business affairs regarding the ownership of a house of ill repute, and on the other hand by her true parentage. She continuously searches for her place in life and happiness, but always is dogged by her past and a wicked man who seems to appear everywhere she goes
The plot to this story twists and turns, a narrative tale with Fanny as the catalyst. She fills her role with a strong resemblance to that of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Although Fanny does not have a great deal of character, she is still a sympathetic enough heroine to draw interest and, well, sympathy. And I don't think that she was meant to be chock full of character either. Everything about her seems like it shouldn't be any different, seems comfortable in its place. She just goes trotting through the story so we can see what happens next, and it always happens to her, whatever it is.

From the movie's start, I was always wondering what was going to happen next, and I didn't always get it right. A lot of lower budget films in the 40's and 50's that I have seen (and some higher budget ones too) are predictable to the point of ridiculous. I love certain cliches, but some are just not okay. Of course, this happens in modern movies as well, I just don't watch that many modern movies, so I can't really speak on that. Fanny by Gaslight has many components of a typical melodrama (I wouldn't know of course, because I don't watch melodramas, but if I did...), such as a damsel in distress, a man who impugns her honor, secret love affairs, and a generally sad aura, but it's a very unique film in my opinion. Another point to the movie was that no two characters were alike. Each actor played his or her part to perfection. I was delighted to see Margaretta Scott playing the unloving wife of Fanny's real father. Her name is Alicia Seymour. She plays Mrs. Pumphrey in All Creatures Great and Small! It was amazing to see her so young, and she has a very interesting and layered character indeed. Selfish but not cruel, light-hearted and flighty, but willing to give her heart away and fall hard for a jerk. A jerk who is not her husband, what's more! 

Fanny becomes her maid for a short time, never letting on that she is secretly Mr. Seymour's own daughter. She masquerades as a family servant's niece. 
This proves to cause a great deal of changes in Fanny's life, and around her. Whilst on a little vacation with her father in the countryside, Fanny meets Mr. Somerford. He is played by a young Stewart Granger. Tall, elegant, witty, gentlemanly, what's not to like? I saw a reviewer on the internet dare to say that his performance was wooden. I suppose she meant he was so strong and consistent and trustworthy that he fit the description 'Strong as an oak' so well that she couldn't help but think of him as made of wood. I'm sure that's what she meant. Couldn't be anything else.

Can you see how he's the best??? And now, if you've taken notice of the man to the right in the middle picture, we come to whom many believe to be the toast of the film and the toast of the town in the film, the wickedly evil and notorious Lord Manderstoke, played by the delightfully gross James Mason. I'm not saying James Mason is always delightfully gross, he just does a good job of it when he tries. Lord Manderstoke is not only a man who lives to do nothing but satiate his carnal desires, but he is also the man who pushed Fanny's foster father into the way of the oncoming carriage and caused his death. He was never punished for it. He appears everywhere Fanny goes. He haunts her like a ghost. My favorite thing about this character is that no matter where he is, no matter who he's with, if he sees a woman within ten feet of himself he will try to kiss her. It's honestly repulsive, not gonna lie.

An entertaining movie all 'round, I encourage you - no- I implore you to go watch Fanny by Gaslight, if you so desire. Although not a perfect film, I think overall the makers and actors involved did a splendid job and it should have more recognition. Until we meet again, God Bless you and make sure you watch lots of Victorian melodramas.

~ Irene

A cute picture, in my opinion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Rose in Bloom: A Tribute to Rose and Mac


This is one book that appeals to my romantic side most definitely. Although technically the sequel to Eight Cousins, I decided to only review Rose in Bloom since Valentine's day is coming up and this is my entry to a little period Valentine's Day blog party, hosted by Along the Brandywine. What fun!

You may know that sometimes I don't approve of Louisa May Alcott, but that's mainly because I have a prejudice against Little Women for certain reasons. And I can't say I don't like the author, because I absolutely love Rose in Bloom. I like the book much more than its prequel, mainly due to the increased presence of Mac and his and Rose's relationship. Well, I also like it cause it's just more interesting, but we'll get into that in just a second. This is not to say I don't like Eight Cousins, but one of my quandary's with the book is that for it being called 'Eight Cousins' it doesn't have enough of the cousins interacting together for my taste. Rose in Bloom has enough of that and more.
I'll summarize the plot line so I can get to the juicy details, especially details about Mac, one of my all-time favorite characters.

~ After an absence of two years, young Rose Campbell is returning from a trip abroad to her old home and old friends. Having lost her mother and father when she was very young, Rose was adopted by her loving uncle Alec and has lived with him and her dear friend, the orphan Phebe, since she was thirteen. Once home, she is reunited with her seven cousins, all boys, who have grown up immensely since her departure. Throughout the book, Rose must battle her way through the bewildering world of wealthy society, high expectations, and falling in love. Through all her days of happiness and grief, Rose unfailingly tries to be a better person and help all those around her, whilst blooming into a beautiful young woman ~

One little disclaimer before I begin gushing about this book: You may be weirded out by the fact that Rose has romantic relations with her cousins. That's just the way it was back then. If you can get over that, as I did after much discomfort, you will find the book is absolutely delightful.

The cousins of Rose are, in order of age,: Archie, Charlie (aka Prince Charlie), Mac, Steve, Will, Geordie, and Jamie. When Rose returns home from her trip, she is pleased to see most of them, but is rather bothered by Charlie. In Eight Cousins, he was a little frivolous and spent time with bad company, and his bad habits have only worsened in Rose in Bloom. I can see why one could be a little charmed by the Prince, but honest to goodness, he annoys me to high heavens most of the time. He always treats Rose's dreams and ambitions with levity and light-hearted ridicule, and never take her very seriously. To be fair, his father moved to India when Charlie was young since he couldn't stand his wife (understandable) and the poor boy was completely spoiled by his mother, Clara. But what's the worse thing of all, Charlie falls in love with Rose. Rose isn't quite sure how she feels about this, but she fancies that, if cured of his vices (chief among them drinking), she could love poor old Charlie as well. I never approved of this, but here are a couple moments where you can't help but feel bad for the frivolous young man. He really does love Rose. Sighhhh. The other cousins have their times in the spotlight as well. Archie falls in love with Rose's friend Phebe, so he's pretty boring throughout most of the book. I do hate it when characters just stare googly-eyed at one another for chapters on end. Steve, the brother of Mac, falls in love with a girl called Kitty Van. The couple is rather silly and clueless, but they do have an earnest wish to improve themselves, so they turn out to be rather charming. Will, Geordie, and Jamie are not mentioned too much, but they are lovable enough. And then there's Mac. 
I love Mac. He's a spectacled bookworm, a philosopher, and completely uncaring of the ways of society. He is known for his honesty and odd peculiarities. Everyone who knows him teases him for his strangeness, but secretly admire him as well. Even Prince Charlie holds Mac in high esteem, although he would never let anyone know. Here's a passage that describes Charlie and Mac very well. Charlie is trying to abstain from vices for Rose's sake, and he's rather peeved about it.

"...They don't require us to be saints like themselves, which is lucky, but they do expect us to render 'an honest and a perfect man' sometimes, and that is asking rather too much in a fallen world like this," said Charlie, glad to get a little sympathy, though he had no intention of confessing his transgressions.
"No, it isn't," said Mac decidedly.

Lol. Mac is always very firm in the belief that trying to be good, though hard, isn't as impossible as Charlie makes it out to be. 
Now I think I oughta say a bit about Rose. She's a pretty good character. Doesn't mind running a race with her youngest cousin, tries hard not to be obsessed with French designer clothing, and is firm and unyielding when Charlie tries to make her accept him when he hasn't even tried to be a better man. She won't even think about loving him until he shapes up. Okay, maybe she thinks about it a little bit. He is kind of good-lookin'. 
But there is a strong dichotomy between Charlie and Mac. Charlie puts all the pressure on Rose in the relationship. She has everything to give him and he has nothing to give her, other than his heart. Mac doesn't ever believe he has enough to offer Rose. He isn't even in love with her for two thirds of the book (at least that's what he says, but I'm not too sure about that), but he's always trying to do better for her. I have three favorite chapters in this book. 'Polishing Mac', 'At Kitty's Ball', and 'Among the Haycocks.' 'Polishing Mac' is like the makeover montage in romantic comedies, and it's really delightful. Steve, a fashionista (fashionisto?) in his own right, is trying to help Mac to learn to dance, dress fashionably, and carry himself well in society. Mac hates society, but he wants to please Rose, and the latter feeling overwhelms the first. I can only think how fun the dancing scene would be when portrayed in a movie. My favorite moment is after Mac accompanies Rose to a party and promptly forgets her when he enters into a complicated and scientific conversation with an interesting and learned guest at the party. Rose is driven home by an elderly lady, but when Mac realizes at the party that he forgot Rose, he runs three miles to her house to make sure she was okay. It's the cutest thing ever. He did something very similar in Eight Cousins, it should be noted.

"Don't take any notice of me, for I don't deserve it. I only came to see that you were safe, Cousin, and then go hang myself, as Steve advised."

There are so many deliciously adorable moments when Mac is being 'polished' up that, I can't share them all. One moment is almost an exact replica of Mac's abruptness mingled with gallantry portrayed in Eight Cousins when Rose sprained her ankle and couldn't walk. In this book, Rose has asked Mac to accompany her to the aforementioned party because she does not wish to be with Charlie, as he is a great flirt and people are beginning to 'talk' and suspect that there is something between the two cousins. Mac asks in an odd voice if there would be no danger of speculation regarding himself and Rose. She laughs and says of course not, as it is 'only Mac'. Mac is rather offended by this comment and lets her know whilst also being hilariously gallant.

But at the door she discovered that she had forgotten her furred overshoes, and bade Mac get them.
"Never mind, it's not wet," he said, pulling his cap over his eyes and plunging into his coat, regardless of "elegancies" that afflicted him.
"But I can't walk on cold stones with thin slippers, can I?" began Rose, showing a little white foot.
"You needn't, for - there you are, my lady," and, unceremoniously picking her up, Mac landed her in the carriage before she could say a word.
"What an escort!" she exclaimed in comic dismay, as she rescued her delicate dress from the rug in which he was about to tuck her up, like a mummy.
"It's 'only Mac,' so don't mind," and he cast himself into an opposite corner, with the air of a man who had nerved himself to the accomplishment of many painful duties and was bound to do them or die.

There are so many great passages in this book, I'd better stop soon, otherwise this post will be altogether too long. 

As time goes on in Rose's life, Mac reveals that he has fallen in love with her, and she is shocked, to say the least. She rather loves him as well, but she won't admit it, telling herself that it is merely infatuation and if she doesn't see Mac or spend much time with him, the love will soon starve to death. But, as the author wittily puts it, the love 'seemed to thrive on air.' Mac and Rose have so much in common, and, as beautifully illustrated in the chapter 'Among the Haycocks,' they really enjoy each other's company and always find many things to talk about. As time goes on, Rose finds her resolve to not fall in love with Mac growing weaker and weaker. He doesn't bother her about it, doesn't nag her, but merely promises he shall win her love, even if it shall take him ten years. Rose's inability to resist Mac's patient wooing is wonderfully portrayed in this interaction:

"...Go and care for someone else. There are plenty of nice girls who will be glad to make you happy," said Rose, intent upon ending her disquiet in some way.
"That is too easy. I enjoy working for my blessings, and the harder I have to work the more I value  them."
"Then if I suddenly grew very kind, would you stop caring about me?" asked Rose, wondering if that treatment would free her from a passion which both touched and tormented her.
"Try and see," but there was a traitorous glimmer in Mac's eyes which plainly showed what a failure it would be.
"No, I'll get something to do, something so absorbing that I shall forget all about you."
"Don't think about me if it troubles you," he said tenderly.
"I can't help it." Rose tried to catch back the words but it was too late.

She liiiiikes him 😍 I mean, it's pretty obvious, but it's still rather funny how she pretends not to.
I think I'll leave you to enjoy the rest of this book. Although a little preachy in the prose sometimes, the story is so delightfully engrossing and full of laughter and fun, and some heartache, that you won't mind being preached at a bit. I've tried not to spoil too much of the story, and I recommend reading Eight Cousins before Rose in Bloom. It will give you a greater understanding of all characters involved. I will leave you with a cryptic passage, laden with meaning, that rather explains the whole darn book.

"... You will write, won't you?"
"Oh, yes! No doubt of that," and Mac laughed low to himself, as he stooped to look at the little Psyche on the mantelpiece.
"What a pretty thing it is!" he added soberly, as he took it up.
"Be careful. Uncle gave it to me last New Year, and I'm very fond of it. She is just lifting her lamp to see what Cupid is like, for she hasn't seem him yet," said Rose, busily putting her work table in order.
"You ought to have a Cupid for her to look at. She has been waiting patiently a whole year, with nothing but a bronze lizard in sight," said Mac, with the half-shy, half-daring look which was so new and puzzling.
"Cupid flew away as soon as she woke him, you know, and she had a bad time of it. She must wait longer till she can find and keep him."

This has been Irene's entry to the Valentine's Day Period Drama Blog Party.. I hope you enjoyed my review and have a wonderful St. Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Sunshine Blogger Award Tag 2021!


Anna and I were nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy. I was flattered! Thank you :D Since Anna is at work at the moment and I might forget to complete this blog post later, I'll be the only one answering the questions. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog. 
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you. 
  3. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions  

    Rachel's Questions:

    1. Fantasy or sci-fi?

    Fantasy. I don't think I've ever read science fiction, to be fair, but I really like fantasy in both books and movies and science fiction always feels cold and weird. I don't know. It's kind of unsettling usually.

    2. Tragedy or comedy?

    Probably comedy, although a good tragedy can be very entertaining. I really like Macbeth, but generally I don't like plays, books, or movies that have sad endings. The general gist of the story can be sad, but I don't want to be depressed at the end. #OfMiceandMen

    3. Fiction or nonfiction?

    Fiction, I would have to say, at least in regard to pleasure reading. I do enjoy reading about horses and animals, though, as well as other interesting topics, but I'm definitely more likely to pick up a story of adventure and mystery when I just want to be entertained, more than an informative nonfiction book.

    4. Snow or rain?

    Snow! But only because it never seems to snow here and it never seems to stop raining. It's raining as I write this. In the winter, excluding a few lovely days in January, it literally never stops raining in western Washington. Snow is so magical!

  5. 5.  Orange juice or apple juice?

    Apple juice all the way. I like the taste better and it looks like whisky, so I feel like a cowboy whenever I drink it in a glass.

    6. Christmas or Easter?

    Now this is a hard question. I'm going to go with Easter for now, but that could change anytime. I love the liturgy and all the delicious food in the baskets and the usually warm weather and the light happy colors.

    7. Middle-earth or Narnia?

    Gahhhhhh! This one is way too hard. Right now I feel like visiting Rohan and Eomer and Legolas and the Shire, so we'll go with Middle-earth for now, but I loooove Narnia as well.

    8. Marvel or DC?

    I don't have an unfailing devotion to either, but I think I like more movies that have been in the Marvel Universe, so Marvel it is.

    9. Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Star Wars. Our family has never been devoted to either of these franchises either, but the first three Stars Wars movies are really good. My favorite character is Hans Solo, just for the record.

    10. Old movies or new movies?

    Old movies!!!!!! Definitely, 100 %. I like some new movies, and I won't discount a movie simply because of the year it was made, but I also like not having to be worried about people, um, partaking in inappropriate and disgusting behavior, as well as gore and swearing and all that nasty stuff. Besides, movies that came out through the 30's and into the 60's were usually charming and there are so many good ones that nobody knows about anymore that I wish people would watch instead of today's trash. Trash I tell you! I could rant on this one for a while.

    I love this movie.

    11. Old books or new books?

    Hmm, I'm a bit less resolute on this question. I've read a lot of good new books, as well as a number of good old books. Newer books are definitely much easier to read, but usually the story isn't as original, but of course there are many exceptions among modern writers. I'd say, as long as the new book isn't inappropriate, I like them equally.

    Those were some great questions! Now for mine:

    Irene's Questions

    1. Romantic comedy or noir?
    2. John Wayne or James Stewart?
    3. South America or Africa?
    4. Penguins or koalas?
    5. 40's movies or 60's movies?
    6. Roller skating or swimming?
    7. Maureen O'Hara or Olivia de Havilland?
    8. Pistachios or cashews?
    9. Going to bed or waking up?
    10. Classical music or pop?
    11. Romance novels or mystery novels?

    Since I yet again don't have eleven people to nominate, I'll go with two :D

    My Nominees

    Megan at the Pen and the Cross
    MovieCritic at Movies Meet Their Match

    Ta da! I am done! Anybody who wants to answer the questions can do that in the comments or on their own blog. Have fun and have a nice day! :D

    ~ Irene

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Last Post of the Year of Our Lord, 2020

 Last Post of the Year I Guess

- Hi there. This is Irene (duh). Mean old Anna never writes for us. I hope you have all had a Merry Christmas, and aren't forgetting to celebrate *all* twelve days of Christmas. That's what we always do :D I don't have a particular movie or book or song to review, but I did want to end the year with a blog post, so I decided to write up on a few different things that I and my family have enjoyed in the past month. Enjoy!

Storm Warning (1951)

Thiiiiiiis movie. It is far too dark to watch during Christmas time, but watch it my sisters, mother, and I did. It is a great movie about a woman who comes to visit her sister in a small town and finds herself being a witness to a Ku Klux Klan murder. Super exciting! It stars Ginger Rogers in an impressive dramatic role (she was a really good actress, as well as being a fabulous tap dancer), and Ronald Reagan in my favorite movie of his. He's so cool. He walks into the room and everybody knows he's epic. Oozes charisma, this one does. And he was our president too! How cool. I will warn everyone that I would rate this movie PG-13. It contains some extremely intense and non-child-appropriate scenes.

High Germany, sung by Martin Carthy, feat. Dave Swarbrick.
*cries a little thinking of it* I was listening to a old folksong playlist, and this one came up. Really hit me in the feels. It's about a girl's True Love fighting in what I'm pretty sure is World War I. Tis a beautiful song. Lovely guitar, and I really like Martin Carthy's voice.

Kinder Schokolade.
Sighhhhh. This is a brand of chocolate. As you might've noticed from the name, it's a German brand. Our German grandparents always send us some for Christmas. It is one of the greatest Christmas blessings experienced by this family. Kinder Schokolade means 'children's chocolate', but don't worry, we won't judge if you eat it and you're not a kid. It's soooo good. I love German chocolate.

Singing Christmas Carols after Liturgy on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, we generally start singing Christmas carols thirty minutes before Divine Liturgy, but for some reason, there were no carols before Liturgy this year. I was a little worried, and asked the lady who cantors with me if she didn't mind singing a couple carols after Liturgy. She didn't, and we ended up singing almost every carol in the book! Also, the lady I was singing with is a voice teacher and her husband can sing bass harmony, and I can sing melody or harmony, so we sounded pretty darn epic. Like, Angels We Have Heard On High was magnificent. Anyway, it was really fun, and very Christmas-spirit rousing!


Alexander Schmorell: Saint of the German Resistance by Elena Perekrestrov
You're probably asking: Will this lady ever stop talking about Alexander Schmorell?
The answer is no. I haven't finished this book yet. I received it as a gift for St. Nicholas day, but there was some confusion with who's shoes were who's, so we thought the book was Anna's gift, and so she read it first. Don't worry about Anna though. I may have the book about Alexander Schmorell, but she has a book by C.S. Lewis, so it's almost fair. Anyway, it is a very good book so far, super historical, but not boring. It's focused on Alexander, but it has content surrounding the other members of the White Rose as well. I recommend it to anyone. I read a great deal of it when I was feeling extremely sick on Christmas afternoon. Lame, I know, but the book was good!

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Man, this movie is the definition of heartwarming. Directed by Ernst Lubtisch, The Shop Around the Corner stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in a really cute, romantic, comedic drama. It is set around Christmas time, and so it was perfect that Anna and I watched it a couple nights ago. It is entertaining the whole way through, and is quite witty. It also has a very good plot, considering it's marketed as a romantic comedy. I recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy a cozy film on a cold night.


That's all for the year, I guess. This coming year will probably be worse than 2020 in terms of personal freedoms being snatched away, so there's a happy thought. Really, I need to stop being a pessimist. Even if we are forced to go to church in secret and start an underground railroad, it will be with God watching over us and it will be exciting as heck. Silver lining guys, silver lining. I bid you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy and blessed New Year!!!!!

~ Anna and Irene

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mine
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the time;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

~ Alfred Tennyson