Book & Film Pairings, Edition 7

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! This week it’s time travel from contemporary times to a Medieval setting + romance, with a hint of an archaeological hunt in the mix. All of these elements combine in the 2003 film Timeline (starring Gerard Butler *heart eyes* and a young Paul Walker) and in Jody Hedlund’s “Waters of Time” duology, books Come Back to Me and Never Leave Me.

Timeline (2003, Paramount Pictures)

With an ensemble cast and an archaeological-centered task, the players in Timeline travel to 14th century France amidst dangers of war to fetch an old friend they believe to be there. A nefarious group in the present tries to antagonize and foil their plan to return home, while an impending siege on a castle looms. A couple threads of romance play out in the story, but Gerard Butler’s heroic part is my favorite — with his Lady Claire.

The Waters of Time duology by Jody Hedlund

Come Back to Me and Never Leave Me

These two novels follow the adventures of two sisters, one on a quest for holy water for healing and the other for closure. Both involve scenes and characters from the 14th century in England, with rivalries of knights, romance, and adventures. These novels echo the film in their clever plots and elements of the past influencing — and sometimes changing — the present. Both feature daring heroes and strong heroines, with happy endings and some interesting archaeological treasure hunting that has its basis in real history. And, if you’re like me and your FAVORITE part is usually the romance, Come Back to Me features an intelligent pairing of a heroine from the present and a gallant (swoony) knight from the past. Never Leave Me‘s romantic pairing is a long-established friendship-to-lovers situation. I would recommend reading these in order for the full arc of the story and the important sister dynamic.

Are you a fan of time travel or Medieval stories? Do you have book or movie recommendations similar to these? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Movie Thoughts: Redeeming Love

Most of my corner of the bookish community is aware of the book and adaptation out now of the 1990s bestselling novel Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It has been the recipient of polarized reviews depending on whose opinion readers seek, so I was interested in seeing for myself how it preserves the integrity of the original in a film format.

It has been about 10 years since I read the novel, so I dusted it off and reread a few key parts to refresh my memory of the framework and details of the story before watching the movie. I remember liking the novel upon my initial read, and I understand the appeal of it to an unlikely audience with its strong redemption message. But, it’s not one of my very favorite historical romances. I am still thrilled to see an adaptation of a Christian fiction novel — I hope its success and visibility draws interest in more adaptations and in the genre as a whole.

I think the movie is an admirable and very close adaptation of the story. It does change some of the details for the timeline’s sake, but the message of redemption and the selfless love of Michael (a metaphorical Christ figure, when viewed through a faith lens) is present and impactful. The faith of Michael, and subsequently Angel’s trust and another key character’s redemption plot, are all clearly conveyed.

The cinematography, costuming, and acting delivery are all excellent.

I had forgotten how serious and brutal some of the storyline is, and I think the movie captured it well without getting super violent or explicit on screen. However, its themes are definitely mature and not for a young or apprehensive audience (especially a caution for viewers with a connection to abuse). I would consider it a caution for teens, too, and I would encourage any parents of teens to view with them and discuss after. It could be a great starting point for a discussion of healthy (and unhealthy) relationships and choices.

I also want to address the consensual scenes. This is perhaps the most polarized thing I’ve seen discussed in online reviews. While I feel these love scenes could have been shortened a little for my sensibilities, they are necessary to convey the Godly intent of a sexual relationship in marriage in contrast to the abuse and history of Angel’s character, and her understanding of selfless love. This is an important and tastefully done part of the novel, and I felt like it was handled fairly well on screen. It does push the bounds of the PG13 rating though, in my opinion, when the sensuality of these scenes is considered with the other (violence, both implied and not; and abuse) content.

For further reading, I would recommend the perspective of Tricia Goyer on her blog, an experienced author and personal friend to Francine Rivers.

(CHRISTMAS) Book & Film Pairings, Edition 6

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! In fitting with the season, I am featuring Christmas-centric books and a movies today — two pairs of them, actually.

Snow Bride (2013), Hallmark Channel Original

A reporter’s quest for a scoop lands the heroine at a political dynasty’s Christmas gathering under false pretenses. Then, she and the hero strike up an agreement for a fake-dating relationship that complicates his family matters and her original intent tenfold. It has a lead couple with FANTASTIC on-screen chemistry, and one of the cutest first-kiss moments in Hallmark history.

His Mistletoe Miracle by Jenny B. Jones | Review

This novella features a couple in a fake-dating relationship at Christmas time in a small town. The hero and heroine’s families are very active in their lives, complicating family gatherings and allowing for some hilarious situations. The hero, too, has a background in journalism. I love how Jenny B. Jones incorporates humor and depth into the relationship dynamics.

The Nativity Story (2006), Theatrical Release

The Nativity Story is just that: a dramatic visual of the Biblical story of Mary, Joseph, their journey to Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. Exceptionally filmed and cast, I often enjoy rewatching this during the Christmas season.

A Night Like No Other by Kristin Vayden | Review

This novella follows a similar timeline and journey of Mary and Joseph through the time of Jesus’ birth. It allows the reader an intimate point-of-view of that time which gives Mary and Joseph a relatable voice and highlights the extraordinary plan of God to use mankind to bring His son into the world.

Have you seen either of these movies? Do you read Christmas stories this time of year? Do you have book recommendations similar to these? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Book & Film Pairings, Edition 5

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post features an absolute FAVORITE Victorian miniseries and three books with similar themes or settings. I’m talking about North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and the ultimate BBC miniseries adaptation from 2004 starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Like the novel by Gaskell, each of these books I’ve chosen have an English setting, romance thread, and similarities to the classic, yet I would recommend them as unique stories with vibrant characters of their own.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

North and South series by BBC, original novel by Elizabeth Gaskell

This work contrasts society, economics, and family bonds through the eyes of its hero and heroine. More than just a romance, I appreciate how the novel and series dive deeper into social problems of the times and the difference one person, or one business owner, can make in the lives of even a small group of people. The romance progresses slowly as outside factors bring the hero and heroine together, begrudgingly at times, then to finally see through each other’s eyes the world around them. I especially love the book’s POV of Mr. Thornton, as I feel he is better understood in that context than his brooding persona in the series.

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson

This Victorian story is mostly set in Manchester and its hero is the owner of a successful cotton mill, much like Mr. Thornton. The backgrounds and contrasts of the protagonists are similar, too, but beyond that, it paints a poignant story of healing and purpose. The couple are married for most of the story, so that makes for emotional glimpses into their life and challenges, and, a unexpectedly sweet romance.

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly

This Regency story has parallels in the name “Milton” and in the societal clash of the hero and heroine. Like Margaret of N&S, Miss Milton has a demanding family that pulls her in many directions. My favorite aspect of this story is how her friendship with the hero is very encouraging. She learns courage and standing up for herself as the story progresses yet doesn’t waver from her initial character.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight cover

I couldn’t leave this last Christmas novella off the list! A Holiday by Gaslight ticks all the boxes for a Victorian Christmas story: decorating the country estate, plenty of mistletoe, a cozy library, and a sparkling romance. The initial misconceptions of the hero and heroine are nods to N&S, as are the ways they find common values and intellect once they look past superficiality. Author Mimi Matthews is a pro and this novella is a fantastic introduction to her stories!

Are you a fan of North and South? Do you have book recommendations similar to this classic? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Binge Watching “Persuasion” Adaptations

Last weekend, I watched the two most recent movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Watching them back-to-back was an unexpected thing! I found the 1995 version at a great thrift store, so I decided to watch it first and follow with the newer one, from 2007, in a few weeks. My mom was enthusiastic after the credits rolled on the 1995, and we decided to watch the next one over the weekend, too.

A little about the two films: the 1995 Persuasion stars Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. The 2007 Persuasion stars Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. Both were originally made for British television and both filmed on location in the countryside, Lyme, and Bath.

I recommend either version, as both do a excellent job adapting the beloved Austen novel. Some things were more distinctly likable in each one, yet I find they have enough differences to make them both watchable for their own merit.

~a brief comparison (or, reasons to watch both of these ASAP~

Cinematography: Both have sweeping English views, coastal visits, and on-location filming. The 1995 version, however, takes its time a bit with the storyline and the scenery, allowing for slightly more contemplative shots. The 2007 has tighter framing on the cast, so the emotions are at the forefront in many of their interactions.

Supporting characters: Vibrant! I find a little more empathy and understanding for Anne’s family in the 1995, while the 2007 periphery cast showcases more faults and annoyances. Either way, I can’t believe Anne puts up with them so gently! In both cases, I LOVE the Crofts.

Protagonist casting: I like the protagonist casting of both adaptations. I think the Amanda and Ciarán of the 1995 suit the more reserved, subdued tones of the story — the passion is still there, just under the surface. Sally and Rupert as Anne and Wentworth in the 2007 do an admirable job, especially in the asides Anne has toward the camera which mirror the narrator of the novel itself. But when it comes to the two Captains side by side, I must choose Rupert Penry-Jones as the most handsome Wentworth!

The endings: *Spoiler Alert* each suits the story build-up. 1995’s Anne is to have her first adventure and chance to see the world, as she has expressed desire to do, with her place now as the Captain’s wife on a ship. Perhaps the sweeter ending, to me, is that of the 2007 with what appears to be “home” settled: Wentworth has acquired Anne’s home estate, Kellynch. From Anne’s sad and frazzled appearance in the beginning, and her having to step away from home, this brings closure and a sense of a happy future with Wentworth’s gift. I appreciate that Austen’s original ending left the characters in a happy situation together with an open-ended future, and both adaptations had freedom to depict what that looks like.

For more about Austen’s Persuasion here on the blog, check out my post with Favorite Quotes from “Persuasion” from a few years ago!

Have you read or watched one of these adaptations? Which is your favorite?

Book & Film Pairings, edition 4

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post is all about romantic comedies that happen to share a church-centric setting of some kind.

All three are self aware of their churchy humor (if you know, you know). And, they all balance humor, romance, and a serious side. Having spent time myself on a worship team, various committees, children’s choir leadership, etc., I definitely related to the humor and situations in these stories! Maybe you will, too. 😉

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated by Kaley and Rhonda Rea

This lighthearted romcom has the planning of a children’s community theater play as a backdrop to much of the characters’ interactions. The cat-owning beta hero and the grouchy barista are my favorite characters. In addition to some hilarious dragon-building and dress shopping situations, it intentionally spoofs Hallmark movies and tropes throughout.

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

The comedy in this story is all about clumsiness, fish-out-of-water situations (American girl in Australia!), and the trickiness of working in a megachurch (that’s sarcasm). The emotional journey of healing its romantic leads traverse, though, is most impactful and impressive. It’s a fav!

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2016)

It has been a while since I watched this movie, but I love the cast and remember thinking the story was fun and enlightening. I’m pairing it with the books for its comedy and play-planning story content, as well as the unexpected romance and deeper lessons its characters learn. While its hero “pretends” to fit in to the church culture while fulfilling a community service sentence, he learns what true service and faith looks like in action. AND he falls for the pastor’s daughter along the way.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2021 Movies & Shows

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic is “most anticipated releases for the first half of 2021”. I’m spinning the topic a bit to cover stories on the big and small screen I’m highly anticipating this year! Some of these were slated for 2020 release, so I’m extra excited to *finally* see them released.

Most Anticipated 2021 Movies & Shows

Top Gun: Maverick This sequel is almost 35 years in the making! I’m all about the nostalgia and anticipated soundtrack of this one.

No Time to Die This James Bond film is Daniel Craig’s last — and I have a feeling it’s going to be my favorite with him. I’m always entertained by the Bond titles but I really liked the story direction of the last one, Spectre, so I’m excited to see how they continue with some of those elements in this one!

Respect Jennifer Hudson as The Queen of Soul.

Black Widow FINALLY we get Scarlett Johansson’s character’s origin story. I hope there’s a nod to Budapest.

Death on the Nile The next Hercule Poirot remake, this highly anticipated period drama/mystery is slated for a late 2021 release. It will (hopefully) be here before we know it!

Dune The classic sci-fi with a fabulous cast. Though I know very little about the story, I am very excited for a new space adventure!

Finding You This Ireland-set romance is adapted from a novel by Jenny B. Jones!!! Hooray! Now, to read it before I watch it…

Luca Disney & Pixar + an Italian setting. I’m in!

On the small screen:

All Creatures Great and Small this promising PBS-Masterpiece slated series follows a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire.

Miss Scarlet and the Duke A Victorian mystery with a female lead. ALL things I love!

Your turn! Did you participate in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday? Are any of these shows on your must-watch list? What books are you anticipating this year?

Book & Film Pairings, edition 3

Welcome to my blog series pairing favorite stories in book and film format. In this third edition, I’m sharing a book and two movies that share this commonality: high tech heist/spy thrillers!

Ocean's 11

Ocean’s 11 is a favorite! It covers the HEIST aspect with sleight of hand, humor, and an iconic cast. Its plot involves a team of thief-friends who assemble, prepare, and execute a plan to rob the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. Simultaneously, a deeper emotional-driven plot is built up as the leader, played by George Clooney, tries to win back his ex-wife, played by Julia Roberts. Who happens to be dating the casino owner. 😉 Filled with quotable lines and smart storytelling, it’s a must-watch for any heist/comedy/action fans!

The Man from Uncle

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. revives the classic TV series with an updated cast and an intriguing Cold War-era setting. It’s a classic enemies-forced-to-work-together plot as agents from the CIA, KGB, and maybe one or two other clandestine agencies work to thwart the plot of a criminal organization and their nuclear plans. It has globe-trotting fun, high tech gadgets, a killer soundtrack, and 3 main characters whose on-screen banter and chemistry is off. the. charts. I really, really, want Hollywood to give us a sequel with more animosity between Solo and Illya and more romance with Illya and Gaby.

The Gryphon Heist by James Hannibal is my book recommendation paired with these films. It features a brilliant ensemble cast of characters from sanctioned government organizations and freelance thieves joining forces to protect a defense design project… and possibly uncover a traitor. It’s fun, high tech, witty, and fast paced ~~ everything you could want in a thriller!

If you have read or watched these, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you have other novels or movies that feature a heist or ensemble agent/thief combo to recommend?

Book & Film Pairings, edition 2

Welcome to a new series on the blog pairing favorite stories in book and film format! This is my second edition of sharing a recommended book and movie with reasons you should check them out! Today’s genre is a mashup of two cultures, family drama, restaurants, and food love!

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey, based on novel, follows an Indian family as they start over with a restaurant in a new country, France. The central character is the eldest son, who dreams of continuing in the culinary world but going about it differently than his family expects. All of this conspires with a rival-turned-friend restauranteur neighbor, a thread of romance, the wonder of discovering a new culture, and a good bit of humor. I really appreciated its subtle lessons on how people can defy expectations in the best way.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay is a favorite novel of mine. Like the movie mentioned above, it melds two characters from completely different cultures – in this case, American and Italian. The cultures serve cleverly to highlight the characters’ shared passions and facets that make them unique. The novel’s whirlwind romance is more central to the story. It shares a culture shock factor with the movie, with an exquisite setting – the Italian countryside! I love seeing the relationship between Emily and Ben, the hero, progress in this story, but mostly I love seeing Emily learn and grow as she takes risks, makes mistakes, and steps out beyond herself.

If you have read or watched either of these, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you have other novels or movies to recommend that feature adjusting to different cultures or finding home in an unexpected place?

Having visited Italy in 2019, I am just enamored with that culture. Do you have any Italian-set movies or novels to recommend?