Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she's never met- even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence-he's been trying to escape his infamous name for years.  As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?
The reason I picked this book up in the first place was because Mellie was a flight nurse. Nursing is one of my favorite things to read about and my favorite Cherry Ames was the one in which she is a flight nurse. That being the case, I was elated to find a “deeper” book in the same setting. Nursing is still my favorite part of the story, yet as I read I grew to like it for more reasons than that. First, I loved the Christian element Mrs. Sundin put in, but still without being preachy as it flows so naturally in the letters between the pen-pals. Mellie has trouble with being shy and reserved, which I can relate to. Her shyness puts me in mind of another heroine who is shy, but who does not deal with it in such a satisfactory way (Valancy, I'm looking at you ;)). For one thing, Valancy runs away and Mellie deals with it right where she is. Another thing I enjoyed was the way Mrs. Sundin crafted the story with so many parallels between Tom and Mellie's story, etc. The romance was also well balanced with deeper themes. This book also made me “think” more than many books I have read. I picked up this book with high expectations and I am happy to say it did not disappoint!

Around the World in 365 Days: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Italy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Movie Spotlight: Yankee Buccaneer (1952)

Thanks to Hamlette for hosting this blog-a-thon and so inspiring me to write this review in the first place! Let us give her three cheers!

For most of my life Pirates did not attract me in the least. I would have liked to have liked them as I love the ocean, and the exotic places which were their legendary lurking places have always fascinated me, but I have never been attracted to the swashbuckling, mustache-swirling type—and be it true or be it false that is what I thought they all were. I did not seek them out and the only place we ever crossed paths was most often when I happened to see something in stores connected to “Pirates of the Caribbean”. And there for a time the matter rested.

However, the tide makes many changes and when in my surfing of the blogging world I ran across a review of "Double of Crossbones" I was caught. A classic with Donald O'Conner as the main character?  Pirate or no, this I must see and so we did and we (especially Arwen and I) loved it...(but that is truly its own story). Suffice to say, Arwen got a DVD collection including “Double Crossbones” and with it came an obscure film called “Yankee Buccaneer”. I read that the costumes were not good and the story was only fine...and I decided without any other thought that it was not worth watching. Lesson One: Do not believe everything you read on the internet. For had not time overcome my scruples, I shudder to think what I would have missed. One thing I have found, is that I tend to like the Bloodthirsty Dave order of pirates, or at least the ones who are not particularly swashbuckling and the Captain especially (in Yankee Buccaneer) is not exactly that.

Still, the statements were in part true: the sailors outfits could have been more realistic and the plot a little more tightly woven. Yet what I read missed one thing—the characters: Farragut, the Countess, even *cough* that irritating Link, but above all...The Captain! But I shall maintain calm and not get ahead of my story.

One of the most comical bits about this story is how the ship's crew is masquerading as pirates, hence they are supposed to be picture perfect specimens and the sight of the no-nonsense captain in such a costume is highly diverting. Also, the sight of Farragut striding about in his purple magenta pants is unforgettable. As for the red and blue Spanish uniforms, however, they are equally unforgettable—but in quite a different way.

Farragut: I have not quite been able to decide whether he or the Captain is the main character. Farragut goes though a great deal of maturing in the film as we see him go from new recruit (making some rather foolish mistakes) to—well—the man he is at the end of the film. I didn't like him at all the first time I watched it, mainly for a reason I will not mention (and no, it is not because of his purple pants), however, I have forgiven him his offense and on this third (or fourth?) viewing I decided I quite like him.

The Countess Margarita La Raguna is brave and clever and lovely. She has a wardrobe to match and I am still trying to see how I could pull off her taffeta skirt, tapestry sash, and blouse look.

And now...Captain Porter.

When thinking of someone to compare him with, Jean Valjean always comes to mind. But he is so much more as he is very much the commander and man of action. Strict with his men, he demands nothing of them that he would not do himself. Besides which, he is also the king of cutting-edge lines. I will not spill any secrets here, but I must say that the ending is incredible and chair-gripping terrific—with certain people galloping around the jungle and fencing. And (though it might seem silly) the first time we watched it I was nearly in tears because “the Captain was just like Jean Valjean and I knew they were going to kill him!” But now I love it and to see Arwen and I watching it is quite the sight as we sit in our chairs—bouncing and shrieking periodically throughout the entire last fifteen minutes of the film. Writing of the Captain, a line of my brother's comes to mind that he once said about Will Kane in “High Noon” and—interestingly enough—could also I think describe this (one of my other favorite heroes): “He is a tough guy that doesn’t need to prove it to anyone.”

I freely admit that the reason I love this film is because of Captain Porter—but there are other lovely and exciting bits, too—so altogether I like it very, very much indeed!

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