Film Review – Tolkien (2019)

The world of a J.R.R. Tolkien story is one of mystery, magic, romance, friendship, wars and meaning filled journeys. But what was the world of the real Tolkien like? How did a British born Catholic orphan who survived by the good will of others create not only languages, but a fantastical world which still enchants millions today? These are the questions that the new biographical drama Tolkien attempts to answer.

ABOUT TOLKIEN

After the successive deaths of both of their parents, the custody of John Ronald  and his brother is given to a Catholic priest. This man ensures that the two boys receive scholarships to a Birmingham school and lodging in the home of a wealthy widow.

In both these places he meets people who will influence and change his life. Despite Tolkien’s initial reluctance to be grafted into their circle, he soon forms a strong bond with students Geoffrey Smith, Robert Gilson and Christopher Wiseman. Together they form a club with the goal of changing the world through their artistic endeavours.

Tolkien also forms a strong attachment with his fellow boarder Edith. She relates to his orphan status and dependence on the charity of others.  With her, he is himself, able to discuss his world of fantasy creatures and languages.

As it always does, life intervenes, first through the reality of Tolkien’s reduced circumstances, the expectations of his guardian and finally the advent of a World War. But it is the memories of these valuable relationships which sustain and inspire him.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Ms. Fisher’s Modern Mysteries Review

Its’ a rare television series that achieves the status of a global phenomenon. But that is exactly what the Australian historical series Miss Fisher’s Mysteries accomplished. In fact, it is so popular that its’ fans demanded and completely crowd-funded a new film after the series ended. It’s success has also led to the production of a follow up series, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Mysteries.

ABOUT MS. FISHER’S MODERN MYSTERIES

The new Ms. Fisher is set several decades later in the 1960’s. It features Phryne Fisher’s niece Peregrine who inherits the Fisher fortune when the aunt she never knew goes missing. This Ms. Fisher also inherits the same curiosity and knack for solving mysteries.

RELATED: TV Review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Season One

After a string of failed jobs and relationships, Peregrine finally finds her calling. She picks up where her aunt left off; as a private detective. She is assisted in her new endeavor by the members of The Adventuresses’ Club, of which her aunt was a member.

Like her aunt, she also forms a tenuous working relationship with a police detective. Though Detective James Steed doesn’t initially appreciate Peregrine’s interference in his cases, he slowly learns to appreciate her innate talent.

For my full review please follow me over to the Silver Petticoat Review.

Queens of Mystery (2019)

Every now and then, something comes along that is really special. In its’ own unique way it captures your imagination and admiration. Such is the case for me with Acorn TV’s new series Queens of Mystery. As a fan of cozy mysteries, I’m always on the lookout for ones I haven’t already seen. This quirky little mystery series is an unexpected pleasure which fits the bill perfectly.

SUMMARY

Matilda Stone has returned home to her village of Wildemarsh to take up her new position as a Detective Inspector with the local police force. Mattie is also returning to her three single aunts who raised her after her mother’s mysterious disappearance.

Beth, Cat and Jane Stone are all crime mystery writers. They can’t seem to help getting involved in Mattie’s cases, much to the frustration of her boss Derek Thorne. Though Mattie takes her job seriously, she has a hard time setting boundaries with the women who raised her. To make matters worse, she falls hard for the local doctor and pathologist, Daniel Lynch. She finds herself frazzled every time they work a case together even though he already has a girlfriend. In the mean time her aunts can’t help but set her up with every eligible man they meet.

Together the Stone women are a crime-solving team to reckon with. But the mystery Mattie most wants to solve is the one her aunts don’t want her to – what happened to her mother.

For my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Book Review – A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Modest Independence follows secondary characters who were introduced in Mimi Matthews The Matrimonial Advertisement. Tom Finchley is legal advisor and friend to Justin Thornhill. It is through his relationship with Justin that he meets the fiery haired, strong-willed lady’s maid Jenny Holloway. After Justin’s wife Helena bequeaths a large financial settlement to Jenny, she is determined to live completely independent.

Jenny’s life has been governed by selfish men, but she yearns for freedom and adventure. She admires and is attracted to the quietly intense Tom. But she refuses to let this influence her plans. Jenny’s curiosity and wanderlust lead her to book a trip to India. If she manages to track down the truth about Helena’s presumably dead brother while there, then her trip will also serve a second purpose.

As the trustee for Jenny’s new inheritance, all Tom knows is that he can’t allow Jenny to make such a perilous journey alone. Not only is she vulnerable traveling as a single woman abroad, but he just can’t allow this fascinating woman to leave his life.

The closer Tom and Jenny get to their destination, they closer they get to each other. Tom has never thought to marry and Jenny never wants to marry. But as they traverse thousands of miles, their attraction and intimacy grows. Will these two solitary souls resolve the conflict between love and independence?

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

 

Book Review – What the Wind Knows

Amy Harmon is a talented author who has penned stories in several different genres. As a fan of historical fiction, of all her stories, my favorite is From Sand and Ash, a WWII tale of love, bravery and an inter-faith romance. So, when I learned Harmon’s latest release was another historical offering, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  As I’ve come to expect from Harmon’s novels, it did not disappoint. What the Wind Knows was a story I could not put down.

WHAT THE WIND KNOWS SYNOPSIS

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

For my full review of this wonderful book, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Series Review – The Hour (2011-2012)

I’ve long been a fan of actress Romola Garai as well as British period dramas, so I was thrilled when I discovered the BBC series The Hour. Not only does it feature Garai in a leading role, but it also co-stars Ben Whishaw and Dominic West. The Hour is a tautly written political and newsroom drama set in 1960’s London.

SUMMARY

Bel Rowley (Garai) achieves her dream when she is tapped to be the producer of a televised news program for the BBC called The Hour. Joining Bel are experienced foreign journalist Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor) and Bel’s best friend and fellow journalist Freddie Lyon (Wishaw). Also, new to the team, is the well-connected and handsome Hector Madden (Dominic West) who serves as “the face” of The Hour.

Together, along with the rest of their team, they present their weekly news program covering current events both national and international. But the investigation and presentation of this news is a fine balancing act. Not only are they constrained by the need to present proof in their stories, but also by an advisor from Westminster who wishes to censor any information not favorable to the government.

For my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Series Review – Anna Karenina (2013)

SUMMARY

Though the source novel is long and much more complex, most adaptations, focus on the character of Anna Karenina herself. Anna is married to the much older Count Karenin. She is content in her marriage until she meets the dashing bachelor and ladies man Count Vronsky. He is immediately smitten, but for the sake of her young son and her standing in society, Anna resists his overtures.

However, Vronsky’s attentions in the face of her husband’s neglect encourage Anna to believe that she is in love with Vronsky. Defying convention, the two run away together. Though they are very much in love, their romance comes at great cost to Anna. Not only is she isolated from her beloved son, but she is also shunned by most of society. The disparity in society’s reactions reveals their hypocrisy. Doors are closed to her but Vronsky meets less judgment and resistance. Anna becomes more and more desperate to hold on to Vronsky. Her doubt and jealousy drives a wedge in their relationship.

Unlike other adaptations, this version also includes the parallel story line of Konstantin Levin and Anna’s family friend Princess Kitty. Levin is in love with Kitty, but she has eyes for Vronsky and refuses his marriage proposal. Heartbroken he returns to his country estate and Kitty travels abroad. Kitty eventually matures and accepts Levin’s second proposal. But her prior rejection creates a wall between them in their marriage. Kitty learns to love her new husband, but he is wary of being too vulnerable with her.

These two couples navigate the complexities of their relationships and provide a opposing portraits of passion and love.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Classic Film Review -My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady is my very favorite musical. I’ve seen it countless times on screen and stage. It never fails to entertain and delight me with its’ ageless story.

Based on a story in Greek mythology of a sculptor who wishes to bring his creation to life, Pygmalion has seen several reincarnations on both stage and screen. Perhaps none is so famous as the film adaptation My Fair Lady.

SYNOPSIS

Eliza Doolittle is the poor Cockney flower seller whose life is turned upside down due to the bet of a stranger. Professor and phoneticist Henry Higgins brags to his peer Colonel Hugh Pickering that his skills are such that he can transform the undeserving Eliza into a lady of grace and poise. Eliza dreams of rising above her station and bettering herself. She seizes the opportunity, little realizing how much will be demanded of her.

I was honored to share my thoughts on this film over at The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

 

 

Book Review -The Long Walk

Last year I had the privilege of reviewing The Bridge, a debut novel by Jill Cox. Not only did I fall in love with the story and its’ characters, but it also turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year. I’ve been impatiently waiting since then for the continuation of Meredith and Pete’s story. Set to release October 16, The Long Walk is finally here! And it is worth the wait.

RELATED: The Bridge Book Review -A Clean YA Love Triangle
SYNOPSIS

Meredith Sullivan has three new goals after Paris:

Hang out all summer with her new boyfriend.
Convince her brother to dump his girlfriend, Kate.
Walk into senior year at Highgate College like a boss.

But then an unexpected tragedy sends the Sullivans back to their Irish roots. And when a childhood dream bubbles up through the cracks in her life, Meredith can’t help but wonder if this new path was her true destiny all along.

From Ireland to Oregon, from Paris to Shanghai, follow Meredith into a future she never imagined. Because sometimes, the story is more important than the ending.

MY REVIEW

I should have known when the opening line was, “fairy tales are lies” that The Long Walk would be nothing like I expected. While The Bridge has its’ serious moments it is a much more light-hearted and humorous story. The Long Walk however, takes an unexpected turn. There is a shocking twist early on that significantly impacts the lives of all the characters, particularly Meredith and Pete. If these two books were dessert, The Bridge would be a crème brulee; sweet with a hard outer shell that reveals its’ form and substance, but easily digestible. The Long Walk is more of a chocolate torte; rich with unexpected depth, weighty with a touch of bitterness to balance out the sweetness.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.

Classic Film Review -Topper (1937)

Cary Grant is the quintessential leading man in both dramas and comedies. But I prefer his comedic films. He had a skill for appearing silly while also still being suave and sophisticated. One of my favorite among his comedy films is Topper. Made just as his star was hitting it’s peak, it is the last film in which he ever played a supporting role.

TOPPER SYNOPSIS

George and Marion Kerby are a socialite couple with few responsibilities. They live a fast, lively and glamorous life. One of the few drags on their carefree life is the annual board of directors meeting at a bank George owns. Once a year, he is forced to attend by the bank manager Cosmo Topper.

After a night of partying followed by the board meeting the next morning, George and Marion are killed in a car wreck. They are perplexed as to why they remain on earth instead of immediately going to the afterlife. Marion believes it is because they haven’t done anything that would earn them a spot in heaven. So they decide that they must accomplish one good deed. They settle on liberating their bank manager, Mr. Topper from the rigid and regimented life enforced by his wife.

Topper finds his life unwillingly and completely turned upside down by his ghostly friends. But before long, he begins to see the benefit of allowing a little joy and fun into his mundane existence.

For the full review please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.