Movie Review: The Runner from Ravenshead ** Winner Chosen!**

Title:  The Runner from Ravenshead
Format: DVD
Studio: Little Crew Studios
Synopsis: “Pilgrim’s Progress meets Little Rascals” in this fun action/adventure movie featuring an all-children cast. Shot in Oregon’s picturesque Willamette River Valley and accompanied by an original score recorded live by the FILMharmonic Orchestra of Prague©, The Runner from Ravenshead is an allegory about finding refuge and rest from the metaphorical wardens we face in life.

After a daring escape from Ravenshead Prison, Sam finds herself in worse trouble trying to outrun the relentless wardens. But help is on the way – kind of. Henry, janitor for the City of Refuge Guide Service, is unexpectedly thrust into the line of duty when all the trained guides are called out on other missions. As he sets out on his long-awaited first assignment, he gets more adventure than he bargained for. Will the enthusiastic but awkward amateur guide persuade Sam to trust him before it’s too late.

A friend dinged me on the messenger a couple of weeks ago with a link to this movie preview.

This movie was the winner of the Audience Choice award and runner up for Best of Festival and Best Feature Film at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.  That’s impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the fact that the actors in the movie are five siblings– all ten or younger.  The parents wrote the script, directed it, produced it, and even did most of the costuming/sets.  Hey, even the family dog was involved.  The website bills the story as, “Pilgrim’s Progress meets Little Rascals.”  That’s just about right.

I ordered it two weeks ago, and last Wednesday, I got the notice that the movie shipped.  Yeah… I was panicking.  See, last week I promised this review.  I was pretty sure I’d have to push it back a ways.  After all, that was really only three days to be delivered.  They came through!  I went to get the mail on Saturday and there was the package.  I couldn’t believe it.  I also got a kick out of the invoice that came with it.  Very sweet.

But, this isn’t telling you about the movie.  I expected cheesy cinematography.  I almost wrote that I was “disappointed.”  It’s one of those rare times when not getting what you expect is good!  The cinematography is better than many TV shows and as good as most movies.  If you’re used to independent films looking “homemade” you will be stunned at the professionalism of this one.

With all of the actors being ten and under (I think this is accurate), I expected it to be difficult to understand them, the acting to be stiff, and to see a lot of bloopers.  Not hardly.  In the preview, when I saw the fake beards and mustaches, I just rolled my eyes and figured I’d have to overlook that– tune it out.  Actually, for some crazy reason, they lend the movie a certain bit of charm.  I can’t explain why I like it.  Normally, I’d hate it.

The plot is not predictable.  There was one twist in particular that I absolutely did not see coming.  I thought I had it all figured out– to be truthful, I thought it was going to be all about how people will give all the appearance of wanting Jesus but though they’re “almost persuaded,” they just won’t yield.  I was wrong.  It’s allegorical and yet it isn’t oppressively so.  You don’t really notice it until you look back and see all of the little nuances that are woven into the story.  I have a feeling I’m going keep finding little things as I rewatch it.  Oh, and it will be watched– often.

I think the thing that surprised me the most was when I found myself holding my breath during one tense scene.  That is when I knew that this wasn’t just a “nice” movie– this is a good movie if you can have the entire thing acted by children, playing adults, playing many different roles, and still get so lost in the story that you hold your breath.

The storyline is simple but profound.  People are imprisoned.  They escape.  The escapees are called “runners.”  The wardens pursue the runners and bring them back.  The “City of Refuge” will give the runners sanctuary if they get there.  Most people don’t know the city is there.  So, there are guides sent out every time a runner escapes.  If the runner is wise and listens to the guide, he’ll make it to the city.  If not, the warden WILL capture them.  This movie is about one runner– Sam and her journey from Ravenshead to the City of Refuge.

I give it five stars.  I love it.  Actually, I love it so much that I’m giving away a copy.  To win, simply leave a comment and tell me what you thought of the trailer.

Congratulations, Cathy!

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CONTEST!!!

Let’s start with le prize.  After all, it’s the fun part, right?  Of course right!  (Name that movie!)

A POSTER! 12 x 18″ of postery goodness!  (I’ll be doing one for Cloaked soon too!)

Ok, how do you win?  It’s simple.  Go to Chautona.com and comment on any one of the interviews.  You can comment here too, but your comment here won’t be counted, and previous interview comments won’t be counted, unless there is a comment there for April 9, 2010.  It’s simple, read that interview, comment, and any comments there or here will be included in the tally.

Today is the last installment of the interview with Craig Worrell.  Don’t miss it!

Now, GO!

Book Review: An Absence So Great ** WIN A FREE COPY**

Title: An Absence So Great

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick

Publisher’s Synopsis: Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?

While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

Oh, my word.  I’ve loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s books since I read All Together In One Place.  GREAT book.  This is another amazing story.  Jane Kirkpatrick has a beautiful ability to take a true story and fictionalize it.  She writes about real people with real problems and weaknesses.  It seems as though she’s drawn to independent women who make unusual choices in their lives, and An Absence So Great is no different.

The book begins with a photograph, a slight vignette about why that picture was taken, the story surrounding it, and it seems to set the tone for the next chapter/section.  The heroine, Jessie, is torn between wanting what is wrong to desire and knowing that her heart desires it anyway.  I love how each person in the book is shown with all their faults, strengths, weaknesses, and glory moments.  You pity Mrs. Baur, despise her, and see how similar she is to her husband… even though she sees herself so far above him.  Jessie is so strong and fiercely independent.  Her parents see her as rejecting their upbringing, but really, she makes decisions, almost every chapter, that show how committed she is to the same values.

Sin isn’t glorified in this book, but neither is it preached about.  It’s confronted, for what it is, and the reader is left to determine where it fits in the scheme of Scripture.  It takes talent to do that without leaving the reader with the impression that the author condones it.

On the negative scale, there were places the story truly stalled.  I had to go back and reread sections to understand where she was trying to take the story.  It certainly isn’t a story killer, but it was frustrating.

Do I recommend it?  Without question.  I love reading these fictionalized true stories by Ms. Kirkpatrick. I feel obligated to point out that things happen in this book that aren’t what we’d always like to see in Christian fiction.  Without giving away the plot, things that I believe are wrong and very damaging to families happen as a matter of course.  However, this is biographical fiction.  This is the actual story of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s grandmother and her life.  She can only write what happened in that case.  She can’t whitewash what happened to make it fit into the neat boxes that Christian fiction usually confines their heroes and heroines in.

I’d like to thank Water Brook for providing me with this copy to review.  You can win this copy by posting a comment.  Please tell me how old your favorite picture is!

And, as always, please be sure to read my Giveaways disclaimer if you haven’t read it in the past or as a refresher!

And March Madness Is Strong…

I can’t stop laughing.  Snort.  So, I wake up this morning and I see that we have a winner– want to guess who?

I’m tellin’ ya folks… this gal is good.  She’s good, I tell ya!  I was sure that, with so many more days in the month, March would go well over $55.00.  Alas, it didn’t.

The funny thing is, for those who don’t get why I’m finding this so funny, that Lori won last month… the prize is coasters… and she won coasters from a prize on another blog a few months ago.

It’s almost as if God WANTS her to have these crazy coasters!

I’ll get ’em in the mail once I get the last one “quilted”.

Have a GREAT Easter, folks!

We Have a Winner!!!

So, I drew for Here Burns My Candle.  I thought it was time I did a SWIFT draw.  Alas, I won.  Yep.  I won my own draw.  I forgot that I responded to Liz Curtis Higgs when she posted a comment.  I should have left them out of the running.  Oh well, I did it again and got…

ADRIENNE!

And, because I am way on the ball this time… I already shipped it!  Yippie Skippie!  I am a happy camper.

BTW… I also finally mailed the last books and the cards that Lori won.  I did a LOT of shipping today.  Just sayin’.  Gonna review another book tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Book Review: **Win a FREE Copy**

Title: Here Burns My Candle

Author: Liz Curtis Higgs

Publisher’s Synopsis: A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Historical fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I do like Liz Curtis Higgs and I am always interested in the Scots and Scotland (it’s that heritage thing).  Furthermore, I am a huge fan of Bonnie Prince Charlie!  So, I was eager to read this book.  However, I was really busy this week with the whole finishing up Aggie fiasco and felt pulled.  So, my friend Christy (who loves historical fiction and Liz Curtis Higgs– we’re identical opposites that way) volunteered to read it for me and give me her .02.

Pros:  The book is marvelously well-researched.  Full of rich details regarding life, clothing, mannerisms, and of course, my favorite… DRESS, the reader will not be disappointed with the setting of this book at all.  Next, and possibly more importantly, the characters are well-developed.  There is nothing more frustrating than reading a book about a character you don’t feel you “know” when you think you should (This is, of course, not applicable to characters that are supposed to be a bit ambiguous or unreachable for whatever reason the author deems necessary).  In Here Burns My Candle, you love the characters you’re supposed to love, and despise the ones who deserve it.  I love that in a book.

One scene in particular is excellent.  The dragoons (king’s men) arrive just as the Elisabeth is helping wounded Jacobites– excellent scene.

Cons:  The book is slow.  This is one drawback for most historical fiction for me.  You have to spend so much time setting the scene and making the reader familiar with the surroundings that you lose their interest.  I wonder why fantasy isn’t that way more often (I’ve seen it, but not as often).  I mean, with that you’re also setting a scene.  Perhaps historical fiction writers could learn something from fantasy writers.  I wonder.  Anyway, it takes a good hundred and fifty pages for it to develop into anything significantly interesting.  That’s a little blechy .  Even then, once the plot is interesting, it is still somewhat slow because most of the action takes place away from the main character.

So, if you’re into action-packed books that you soar through before you know it, the book might not be for you.  Race car readers are likely to be frustrated.  However, if you like to walk your books, take your time, enjoy the scenery, pause and reflect before moving onto the next scene… Here Burns My Candle might be the perfect book for you.

I want to thank Water Brook for providing this copy for review and for the give away copy!  Yes indeedy, there’s one to be had.  Just post a comment and let me know how much you know about Bonnie Prince Charlie and you might just win one for your home library!

We Have Winners!!! *** Dancing With My Father ***

Cari!  Perhaps God agrees that you need to read the book, because you won!  Yippie!  I’ll be sending you a copy asap.  If you want it faster (ie. I don’t have to dig out your addy) send me your address via email!

But… there was more than one!  Sooooooo I went back to ye trusty number generator thingie  and punched it again and got…

Diane L!  Please email me your address and I’ll be happy to mail your book out ASAP.

For those who don’t have my email address, I will be posting an image with it on the sidebar.  Just sayin’.

Please read (if you haven’t before) my “Giveaways Policy.”

We Have a Winner *** Mother Daughter Duet***

Well, on this one, we have two winners!  First was number 3.  Kathryn!  You win again.  AND… you save me postage.  Geee, what a pal!

I’ll be popping this in with your other book as soon as I have an address for you.

However, we’re not done, as you all well know.  I mean, seriously, we can’t give away just one book when I have two soooooooooo

And Carol!  Yippie Skippie!  You’ve won yourself a copy!  I’ll be popping that in the mail for you if I can find your address.  Want it faster?  Email me.  Just sayin’!

Off to draw for more!

Please read (if you haven’t before) my “Giveaways Policy.”

We Have a Winner *** Deep Harbor***

Congratulations Katheryn (with a K… a C always looks so smug… 😉 )

Just email me with your address and I’ll ship that baby right out to you.  Enjoy your flight into fictional history!

Please read (if you haven’t before) my “Giveaways Policy.”

We Have a Winner~~~

We almost had another “double digit” month.  I was tempted to cheat and add two pennies from the couch or my kid’s bank… anything… but I didn’t.  In the interest of honesty, I left it alone.

So… Lori with a guess of $38.41 was the first guess within 10 cents!!!  She wins!  Congrats.  Now I get to figure out what to send you!  Yippie!  Snort.

I thought it was fascinating how in 31 days I got to $17.17 but I went way over double in only 28 days!

Emily would have had it with $38.37… she was ALMOST ON THE DOT… but she was second.

Book Review: Deep Harbor ** Win Copy**

Title: Deep Harbor

Series: Northern Lights Series

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Publisher’s Synopsis: As they build new lives in America, Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl each experience a personal tragedy that threatens to destroy everything they left Norway to find. Tora’s web of lies has cost her a successful future with the man she loves. When tragedy strikes, Elsa must draw upon her faith and the strength she can muster to discover who she is and the path she must follow. After her husband’s disappearance, Kaatje struggles to raise two young daughters and tend her farm, and Karl finds himself caught in a life of loneliness and emptiness. Only by placing their trust in God—and in each other—will they pass through these rough waters and find the safety of the harbor.

From the richly forested banks of the Washington Territory to the burgeoning city of Yokohama and across the turbulent, danger-filled waves of the open sea—experience the epic saga of perseverance, pain, faith, and calling in the Northern Lights series.

Well, I confess.  I didn’t think I was going to like reviewing this book when I discovered it is the sequel to the book The Captain’s Bride, but fortunately, and unlike me, Ms. Bergren knows how to write a continuing story that can stand alone.  I was suitable captivated by the Norwegian women.  After all, if they were real, they could have been my children’s ancestors.

While Historical Fiction is not my favorite genre, Ms. Bergren did an excellent job creating a tale that grabbed and then held my interest.  I love her flawed but endearing characters.  Too often, authors seem to give their characters token faults, but these women, as admirable as they are, had serious character flaws that made them believable and helped the reader grow sympathetic.

There were a couple of minor historical errors… I THINK… I haven’t looked them up so I won’t say what, but they were minor and honestly, if I didn’t have parents that were closet etymologists, I doubt I would have noticed one of them.  So, I really don’t have much complaint at all with the book, but I can recommend it and do.  I think one of the nicest things about this book is the ability to disappear into a different place and part of history.  Instead of Victorian England or  the American Prairies, this book takes you onto the open sea with people from a place not often found in Christian fiction– Norway.

I want to thank Waterbrook for providing this copy for review.  I would also like to share the bounty and offer a chance for someone else to enjoy it!  So to enter, simply post a comment and tell me what part of history or place in history you’ve never read fiction about and would like to OR that is where/when your favorite book is situated.