Top Ten Tuesday -Favorite Books of 2017

Today’s Topic:  Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

This was a year for new author discoveries. Since I’m a reader who tends to stick to authors I know, I’m glad I branched out.  I would have really missed some fabulous books otherwise. Many of these surprised me in the best way. Of the eleven stories listed below, only four were were written by authors I’ve read before. Since I’ve already done a post of my favorite books from the first half of the year, I’ve tried not to duplicate that list (with a few exceptions).

These week’s book links are (mostly) to my reviews. So, if you’re curious why I loved them so much, you can find out why, by clicking on the book titles listed below.

From Sand and Ash -Amy Harmon, The Bridge -Jill Cox, Begin Again -Crystal Walton, The Girl Who Chased the Moon -Sarah Allen Addison, P.S. From Paris -Marc Levy, Then There Was You -Kara Issac, Storm and Silence -Robert Thier, Conspiracy of Silence -Ronie Kendig, At the Edge of Summer -Jessica Brockmole, Murder at the Brightwell -Ashley Weaver,Mark of the KingJocelyn Green

What have been some of your favorite books this year? Have you read any on my list?

 

 

Book Review -At the Edge of Summer

SUMMARY

When Clare Ross’ father dies, her mother’s close friend whisks her away from Scotland to her family home in France. The lonely, grieving Clare finds a kindred spirit in Luc Crépet, the son of the household. She also finds understanding and encouragement of her artistic skills in this slightly bohemian family. Clare and Luc spend a golden summer together, before her grandfather unexpectedly comes to claim her.

Although they are separated, first by distance and then by war, Luc and Clare nurture their bond through letters. Eventually, this connection is severed and they lose track of each other. Until one day after the war, a familiar face walks into the prosthesis studio where Clare works. Though Clare has finally found her place, Luc has lost his. But Clare refuses to give up on the boy she once knew and is determined to rescue him as he once rescued her. Can a man scarred physically and emotionally by war and betrayal recapture the love and contentment of that one summer so long ago? Continue reading “Book Review -At the Edge of Summer”

Film Review -Bitter Harvest (2017)

THE HOLODOMOR

Holodomor is a word which translated literally means death by starvation.  The word comes from the Ukrainian words holod, ‘hunger’, and mor, ‘plague’ possibly from the expression moryty holodom, ‘to inflict death by hunger’ (Source: Wikipedia). The Ukrainians use it more commonly to refer to a literal event which occurred in the early 1930’s when Stalin’s government created a famine. The intentional policies of his government led to the death of millions of Ukrainians from starvation and subsequent disease. Although the final tally of deaths varies, it ranks with the Holocaust as one of the worst tragedies of this century. Bitter Harvest is the first Western feature film to portray this historical event onscreen.

SUMMARY

Yuri and Natalka are childhood sweethearts who have grown up together in a small Ukranian village. They have come of age in a time where the ruling Russian monarchy has been ousted and Communism has become a popular governing concept. It is a chaotic time, particularly as the Ukraine has taken advantage of Russia’s political instability to assert their own claim to national identity and independence…and failed.

Yuri and Natalka lives remain relatively untouched by the turmoil. Their biggest concerns are more personal. Yuri (Max Irons) is an artist who struggles to live up to the reputation of his famous warrior grandfather. Natalka (Samantha Barks) worries that her illegitimate birth will taint Yuri’s reputation if they marry. But the outside world soon crashes in on their simple life. Orders from Moscow have sent Russian soldiers to the Ukrainian heartland to confiscate the wealth and property of this area. These soldiers are cruel and violent as they force collectivization on formerly free landowners and peasants. But Stalin needs the grain from this Eastern breadbasket to fuel his army.

 

Too read the full review, please follow me to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Foreign Film Friday -Sissi (1955)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Sissi is a German film about the real life historical figure of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The real Elisabeth (nicknamed Sisi) had royal Bavarian blood and was well connected through her many royal relations. She was fifteen when her first cousin, Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian emperor, fell in love with her and coerced her into marriage. Though she was renowned for her beauty, once married she lived a rather unhappy life. Sisi’s rather free upbringing made it difficult for her to adjust to the rules and strictures of court life. This was made even more difficult by her overbearing and controlling mother-in-law. Though her husband loved her, he stayed busy being emperor and she didn’t reciprocate the depth of his feelings. Although she is the longest reigning empress of Austria, she spent most of those years away from court and uninvolved in its’ politics.

Sissi is the first of a trilogy of German films which portray the life of this famous woman.  As with most historical films, it is fairly romanticized. Still it manages to give a somewhat true accounting of Sisi’s early life.

The picture covers the brief period of Elisabeth’s life prior to catching the eye of the Emperor until the day of their wedding. It introduces other historical characters such has her sister Helene, who had been the original intended bride of the Emperor. Other characters which appear are Sisi’s parents and siblings, and her aunts and uncles who were the ruling monarchs of other German principalities. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -Sissi (1955)”

Documentary Review -Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015)

One of the reasons I love books and films are for the stories they tell. But I’m not just a huge fan of fictional stories. I’m also fascinated by real people’s individual stories; their personal experiences, what makes them tick etc. This is why when I heard about Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story I was interested in watching it. Then of course, I read several positive reviews about this ordinary couple who worked in an extraordinary industry and knew I had to see it. Harold and Lillian Michelson were a behind the scenes Hollywood institution. Despite all of my interest and research into film history, I had never heard of them before.

ABOUT Harold and Lillian

The Michelson’s moved to Hollywood from Florida in 1947. Harold was a self-taught artist who eventually found a job working in the movie industry as a Storyboard Artist. He slowly worked his way up to become an Production Designer. Lillian (like myself) loved to read. She used it as away of escaping a busy and demanding life as a wife and mother. This interest led her to become a volunteer for a film studio as a researcher making sure that the movies were as historically and otherwise accurate as possible. Along the way she became the owner and manager of a huge collection of books and other source materials. Continue reading “Documentary Review -Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015)”

Book Review -To The Farthest Shores

SUMMARY

Six years after the only man she ever loved left and broke her heart, Jenny Bennett is simply existing in her job as a civilian nurse for the Army. But when she happens to run into Ryan Gallagher and his daughter on base, it stirs up mixed emotions in her.

Ryan never intended to leave Jenny behind when he went to Japan, but his duty and commitment to his country forced him to make a  heart rending decision. He never forgot Jenny, but expected her to move on. When he finally meets Jenny again, he yearns for her forgiveness if not her acceptance.

When Ryan requires Jenny’s help in preparing his replacement they are forced to work and live together in a remote area. Ryan’s position with the government requires absolute secrecy which is a problem for a woman who longs for security and stability. But if Ryan succeeds in his plan, he will be able to remain in America and hopefully win Jenny back. Continue reading “Book Review -To The Farthest Shores”

Top Ten Tuesday -Fictional Destinations I Want to Visit

Today’s Topic: Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish

My real life travel bucket list is so long it would take me a couple of lifetimes to fulfill it. So this week’s topic prompt is a particular favorite since it combines two of my passions; books and travel! I love the idea of having a fictional travel bucket list. And just like my real life list, there are so many fictional destinations I’ve enjoyed visiting. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Fictional Destinations I Want to Visit”