my top ten favorite actors.

The title is pretty self-explanatory! So here’s the list, from ’10’ to ‘1’. ❤

10. Alan Ladd

To be honest, this spot could have been taken by a number of different actors. However, Alan Ladd has been on my mind ever since I watched Whispering Smith a few days ago. And he is special to me for a few different reasons (not least of which is that we share the same birthday!), so I think he deserves to be on this list. I haven’t seen him in too many films–Whispering Smith, The Proud Rebel, and Shane and a film noir. But that’s all I had to see to appreciate Ladd’s gentle good looks and subtle acting.

A favorite performance: There is a reason that Shane is the best-known of Alan Ladd’s films. He is superb as Shane. Makes my heart ache.

9. Michael Fassbender

It’s very weird to remember now, but I didn’t actually like Michael Fassbender for a long time. I saw him in A Bear Named Winnie when I was a kid, and for whatever reason, Kid Me didn’t care for his looks or his acting. Rather shocking, I know. 😉 Thanks to the X-Men films, I’ve now become a firm Fassbender fan. Besides his good looks (very good looks), I appreciate the finesse and care that he puts into every role (that I’ve seen him in). Even though X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix were not great films, I still loved what Michael Fassbender did in both movies.

A favorite performance: Even though I still don’t quite ‘get’ the insanely quick friendship that sprang up between Erik and Charles, Michael Fassbender is wonderful in X-Men: First Class.

8. James Coburn

I became a fan of James Coburn after watching The Magnificent Seven, Hell is for Heroes, and The Great Escape all in a very short period of time (as in, one day). There is something so cool and fun about Coburn, whether he’s portraying a German infiltrator in Combat! or a money-hungry creep in Charade or One of the Coolest Cowboys Ever in Mag7. Or voicing Henry J. “I’ll kidnap a thousand children before I let this company die!” Waternoose in Monsters, Inc. Heehee.

A favorite performance: Gotta be Britt in The Magnificent Seven. “Call it.” Or “I was aiming for the horse.” Too awesome!

7. Sean Bean

One way to tell that I’m obsessed with an actor is if I watch all sorts of weird movies and TV show episodes that I wouldn’t ever have watched…except for the fact that said actor stars in them (or has a bit part, even). That’s what happened with me and Sean Bean. I’ve always known him as ‘the villain from National Treasure‘, but after seeing The Fellowship of the Ring and casting Sean as a character in King’s Winter, I became very interested in his films, very quickly. His accent, in particular, is the best!

A favorite performance: How can I not say Boromir? In a huge cast of fantastically talented actors, Sean Bean still stands out. Even though Boromir dies in the first film, his memory lingers on–and that’s in large part to Sean’s performance.

6. Dana Andrews

My introduction to Dana was The Ox-Bow Incident. Oof. I was stunned by that movie (not in a good way); Dana’s performance as the doomed Donald Martin really gripped me. Thankfully, Rachel was right there to give me a list of much happier/better Dana Andrews movies. I’ve been a fan of his ever since! There’s an understatedness about so many of his performances that I find really appealing (The Best Years of Our Lives, anyone?) And few actors (if any) look better in a trench coat and fedora.

A favorite performance: Hmmm. Probably Detective Mark McPherson in Laura. He’s tough and sweet and protective in that. I also really like Dana’s performance in The Purple Heart. Not the best movie overall, but his Captain Ross is great.

5. Henry Fonda

As was the case with Dana Andrews, my introduction to Henry Fonda was The Ox-Bow Incident. His character, Gil, is the main character in that film, so Fonda also stood out to me. I saw him in a few other films after that, such as The Grapes of Wrath–I had quite a crush on him (and still do, though it’s not as intense).

A favorite performance: Doug Roberts in Mister Roberts. Just re-watched this excellent, hilarious film the other day and fell in love all over again with Fonda’s portrayal of Roberts. Doug is funny, full of integrity, and inspiring, and Henry Fonda did him justice. ❤

4. Christian Bale

I recently talked about how much I like Christian Bale, but yeah. Again, I really do. He’s never disappointed me in any movie role, with the way he brings such focus and intensity and charm to his characters. Even when Bale plays a despicable guy (like Borden in The Prestige), I’m utterly fascinated.

A favorite performance: Already mentioned it–The Prestige. I don’t want to give out spoilers, but let’s just say that Christian Bale had a very difficult, demanding, mind-twisting role to play and he pulled it off perfectly.

3. William Holden

Am I surprised that William Holden is so high on this list? Actually, yes. But I thought about it, and I really do like him that much. I’ve seen Stalag 17 a bunch of times over the past several years and Holden is utterly amazing as Sefton. My love for Holden’s performance in Stalag 17 is only rivalled by what he does with the character of Major Kendall in The Horse Soldiers. William Holden is another actor who, like Christian Bale, simply fascinates me whenever he’s on-screen.

A favorite performance: I really have such a soft spot for Holden’s portrayal of Major Kendall–a wonderful, principled doctor. John Wayne could have taken over the film completely (and I admit Kendall is not the main focus), but William Holden’s portrayal of the steely, dedicated, kind doctor is why I watch The Horse Soldiers.

2. Glenn Ford

I honestly have a hard time thinking of Glenn Ford’s Ben Wade as the villain in 3:10 to Yuma. Ford puts so much humanity, warmth, and *cough* awesomeness into the role that I almost view Wade as the film’s protagonist. I’ll never shut up about what Glenn Ford did with the the character. But besides 3:10, Ford also does a great job in Blackboard Jungle, The Big Heat, Texas, and soooo many other films. He has a beautifully precise way of acting. I’m such a fan!

A favorite performance: Always, always, always Ben Wade.

1. Harrison Ford

There was never a doubt in my mind as to who would get the #1 spot on this list. It had to go to Harrison Ford. You know in season 4 of Lost, when Daniel writes If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant? Well, Harrison Ford kinda feels like my constant. I saw him in A New Hope as a kid, and I’ve been watching his movies ever since (doesn’t hurt that both my parents liked him too). He is my favorite actor, hands down. I love so many of his characters. (Both because they are lovable characters and because they’re, y’know, portrayed by Harrison Ford. *wink*) Indiana Jones, Richard Kimble, Henry Turner, John Book, President James Marshall, Branch Rickey, William Jones…and so on.

Harrison Ford is a solid and dependable actor–which may not sound very glamorous, or like I’m fangirling over him, but I find his presence onscreen very comforting, in a way. (If that makes sense.) And that’s important to me. He’s simply the Greatest of All Time. ❤

A favorite performance: Soooo many. Indy is one of my favorites, definitely. Even though he’s an action-adventure hero, Harrison Ford portrays him with depth and emotion and integrity to the character. Raiders is great, of course, and I also really love the relationship between Indy and his dad in The Last Crusade. And then there’s Richard Kimble and John Book and President Marshall. Like I said, so many good characters!


And there you have it! My top ten favorite actors, to date. I had a lot of fun putting together this list, and now I’d love to hear from all of you! Who are some of your favorite actors?

Eva-Joy

the ‘What’s Your WIP?’ tag.

Katja created this tag a while back, and kindly tagged me. Thanks, Katja! When I was first tagged, I thought I would talk about King’s Winter, but I actually have a different WIP right now–one that I’m super excited to share with all of you!

Here are the tag rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you & link to their blog.
  • Link back to the creator, Katja @ Little Blossoms for Jesus, & add the tag graphic.
  • List the rules.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Feel free to add snippets!
  • Tag as many or as few people as you wish & let them know they’re tagged.
  • Add a clean copy of the questions at the end of your post for the “tagged.”

Let’s go!


Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?

My current WIP is a Western novella called The Shoot-Out that Wasn’t. I’m planning/hoping that that will be the story’s official title and not just the working title. We’ll see!

Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?

After five years’ absence, Dan Harness returns to Joshua Hollow to find that his oldest brother James has become mayor–and that his other brother Lee has closed himself off from the world, and especially from James. In his search to find out why there is a rift between Lee and James, Dan discovers that James has been withholding letters addressed to Dan and Lee, from their late mother. Angered by his oldest brother’s actions, Dan (with help from Lee) sets out to ruin James’ chances of being re-elected. But not everything is as it seems…

(A serviceable enough blurb, I suppose, though far from perfect.)

Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?

This is not what I expect the actual book cover to look like, but it’s something!

created on Canva.

How did you get the idea for this story?

Well, there was this tumblr post.

I added that to my Instagram story, and Rachel DMed me and said “Write this! I want to read it.” We talked a bit about how that plot would make for a good western, but then I forgot all about the idea. Forgot that is, until I was at work one day and I got slammed with inspiration for a story based on that prompt. One thing led to another and, well, here I am with a two-thirds completed novella!

How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?

I’m aiming for 40K to 50K words–a nice, longish novella or a short novel. Originally, Shoot-Out was written entirely from Dan’s point of view, but I’m currently expanding the story to include both James’ and Lee’s POVs as well. The original draft was around 25K words, so I should be able to hit my goal with minimal difficulty.

Who’s your favourite character so far?

All of them?

Each of the three brothers has a special place in my heart. Dan is the youngest, an impulsive hothead who is somehow both frustrating and endearing. Lee is the middle brother, quiet, introverted, and unshakable. And James…sigh. James is the oldest brother, and he reminds me a lot of myself. He might be everyone’s least favorite character, but I really like him. (Especially as I’m in the middle of writing his POV scenes right now.) What I really love is how all three brothers play off each other, whether as a group or in pairs. Having seven siblings (and five brothers!) was definitely good experience for writing Shoot-Out.

Oh, and there’s also Virginia! She’s sweet and sharp and doesn’t miss a thing. And she and Dan have a mutual attraction thing going on throughout Shoot-Out. ❤

Writing the first draft! It was an absolute delight from start to finish. I would wake up, go to work, have my mind flooded with ideas for how the story should continue (since cleaning suites is pretty mindless work, my brain was free to live in Joshua Hollow). And then I’d write and write when I wasn’t working. I wrote the entire first draft in about two weeks.

There was a reason I wrote so quickly: I planned to give Shoot-Out to Rachel as a Christmas present, and I started writing in October. I needed as much time as possible to edit, get beta feedback, and edit again. But even with the time-crunch, the entire drafting process was so. much. fun. One of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. (If not the best.) And I got it to Rachel in time for Christmas!

Any special person(s) who helped create it?

Rachel inspired me and Mary encouraged me (and let me ramble on about the story when I couldn’t post about it publicly for fear it would ruin the surprise). Marian, Katie, and DKoren beta-ed the story, and my mom proofread it! And, most importantly, God gave me the ability to write Shoot-Out in the first place. As is usual with stories, the creation of this one was a collaborative effort. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped!

What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?

I can’t say too much–because of spoilers–but there are a few scenes near the end of the story in which Dan and James are forced to be in the same room for an extended period of time. Those scenes are my favorites to reread, and they were great to write as well.

Can you give us a snippet? 😉

I always have difficulty choosing snippets to share because I’m not sure what sounds good out of context and what doesn’t. But this snippet comes from very near the beginning of the story, when Dan rides into Joshua Hollow after being gone five long years.

The first thing I noticed on entering the town, was that it was in a fair way to becoming more of a city than a town. My last memories of Joshua Hollow were small buildings bleached bare in the scorching Texas sun. But almost every house now had a fresh coat of paint. The church on the edge of town had an extension hammered into the side of it. A large, shiny mercantile had planted itself where the old feed store used to be, and Rafe Pollack’s saloon was bigger than I remembered it. What I’m saying is Joshua Hollow looked a sight better better than I did just then, covered in trail dust as I was.

Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?

Well, I intended it to be a light-hearted dramedy. But I think I’m incapable of writing true humor, and the story took a much more serious turn. Other than that, Shoot-Out nearly wrote itself. The story has stayed very similar to what I first envisioned (minus the comedy element).

Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?

Not really! But I think Proverbs 17:17b is a great representation of the story.

…a brother is born for adversity.

*smirks*

When and where have you done most of the writing so far?

I wrote the first draft in two weeks around the beginning of October, and I’ve worked on Shoot-Out off and on ever since (King’s Winter had to be written, and I’ve also been working on a sequel to Shoot-Out). Although I do a fair amount of writing on my laptop, I’ve also done quite a bit of longhand writing for this story. I really like the simplicity of writing with a notebook and pen. I can write pretty much anywhere! And typing up my writing gives me a chance to edit on the go, so to speak.

Where do you get inspiration for this story?

Louis L’Amour novels, the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy by Emily Hayse, Rachel Kovaciny’s upcoming release (My Rock and My Refuge), the ‘Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs’ album by Marty Robbins, old Westerns…so many things give me inspiration!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. And not just a plotter, but an extensive outliner. I’ll outline plots, scenes, and sometimes even the small stuff within scenes. I find that outlining helps me not to be so anxious about drafting difficult, intense, or complicated scenes. Plus, it’s fun. Shoot-Out was the first book where I did so much outlining, and that’s the method I use for all my WIPs now.

Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?

I’ll pray, if I remember. (Trying to be better about that!) Sometimes I’ll light a scented candle, though not often. Oh, and I’ll pull up the music I want to listen to as I write. These days, I’m alternating between my ‘tales of Joshua Hollow’ playlist and the ‘Chill’ album by The Piano Guys.

Are you thinking of publishing this story?

Yes. Praying and planning and hoping. I have a goal in mind that I’m working toward (of when I’d like to publish Shoot-Out). Since I truly have no idea if I will reach that goal, I won’t put it up on the internet. 😉 But just the fact that I do have a firm goal and a plan for how to achieve it? That’s pretty big, for me. Whenever publication happens, I am STOKED to introduce you to the town of Joshua Hollow and the people who live there. Both the setting and the characters have become so dear to me.

What things have you learned while writing this story?

  • Prayer makes a difference in my writing.
  • I can write anywhere. I don’t need a fancy set-up or to have things ‘just so’.
  • I can take beta readers’ critiques, sift through them, come up with a good plan/list for edits, and then actually work through that list. (This seems really basic, but I haven’t ever been so organized, methodical, and purposeful with how I utilize beta reader feedback.) Editing can be fun! In a stressful way though.
  • I ADORE WRITING WESTERNS. (I learned this before, but I re-learned it last year, and it is a glorious truth.)
  • I’m sure there were other lessons too, but those are the ones that stick out to me the most.

If this tag looks like fun and you want to play along, consider yourself tagged! Here’s a clean list of the questions:

  • Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?
  • Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?
  • Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?
  • How did you get the idea for this story?
  • How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?
  • Who’s your favourite character so far?
  • What’s your favourite memory related to this WIP?
  • Any special person(s) who helped create it?
  • What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?
  • Can you give us a snippet? 😉
  • Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?
  • Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?
  • When and where have you done most of the writing so far?
  • Where do you get inspiration for this story?
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser?
  • Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?
  • Are you thinking of publishing this story?
  • What things have you learned while writing this story?

Are you a fan of westerns? How has your writing been going? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

our love for the Star Wars sequel trilogy: a collaborative Q&A w/ Maribeth Barber.

After weeks of planning, writing, and texting, I am thrilled to share this post with you all! Maribeth is a dear friend of mine, and an ardent fan of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy–as am I (though I still love the prequels best). The two of us thought it would be great fun to share our love for the sequels by working together on a blog post about it. Instead of responding to criticisms of the Sequel Trilogy, as was my first thought, we decide to go with a faux interview format instead–one that would allow us to focus on our appreciation for the trilogy without rehashing anti-ST arguments once again. 😉 Now, here is our heady fangirling post!

When did you first watch the Sequel Trilogy? Was it love at first sight, or did it take you a while to become a fan?

Eva: I first began watching the Sequel Trilogy in 2019. I remember holding my phone in the darkness of my bedroom, hearing the familiar Star Wars fanfare, and being transported to a galaxy far, far away. I loved The Force Awakens right from the start, and I watched and enjoyed The Last Jedi soon after. And then I had to wait and wait for The Rise of Skywalker to be released! Pretty much the only thing that’s changed with how I view the Sequel Trilogy is my opinion of Kylo/Ben. I loathed him in TFA, rolled my eyes at him in TLJ…and then promptly fell in love when I saw RoS. XD

I would say that my good opinion of the Sequel Trilogy has only grown from 2019 to now–partly because Maribeth’s enthusiasm for the ST has rubbed off on me. And I’m not ashamed to say that. ❤

Maribeth: I first saw The Force Awakens when it was in theaters. That was such a dynamic theater experience: the audience cheered, gasped, and applauded through the whole movie. I, meanwhile, promptly adopted Rey as my new favorite heroine. Unfortunately, I fell for the negativity surrounding The Last Jedi and didn’t even bother to see it (one of my greatest film-related regrets), and only decided to see The Rise of Skywalker in theaters because I knew I’d hate myself if I didn’t hear the opening fanfare one last time in a theater.

Much to my surprise, I pranced out of that theater in giddy delight. The Rise of Skywalker has its problems, but it ignited my love for the Sequel Trilogy, rescued me from writer’s block, cemented my admiration for Rey, and left me head-over-heels in love with Ben Solo, a character I’d despised since TFA.

Eva: I love how we both did a complete 180° about Ben after seeing RoS!

Maribeth: I mean, Adam Driver is just that talented.

What is your favorite film in the trilogy?

Eva: While I certainly love all three films, there is one that rises above the rest due its depth, artistry, and heart. And that film would be The Last Jedi. I know, I know! The Last Jedi is one of the most controversial ‘fandom films’ ever made. But I appreciate what Rian Johnson did with/for the Star Wars universe and the continuing story of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo.

TLJ is a beautifully shot movie. The Throne Room fight? The Holdo Manoeuvre? Crait? Those conversations between Rey and Kylo? The Last Jedi contains perhaps the most interesting concepts and beautiful cinematography in any Star Wars movie. But even more than the visual beauty of the film, I love the characters. Rey, searching for her identity everywhere but within herself. Poe, learning that you can’t be right every time. Finn, coming to realise that the fight against the First Order is more important than he first thought. Kylo, continuing to struggle against the light that calls to him. And Luke. Dear, wonderful Luke, whose journey is perhaps the most powerful and poignant of any character in The Last Jedi.

Maribeth: I completely agree about The Last Jedi. Each of the Sequel Trilogy films has its own special place in my heart for a variety of reasons, but The Last Jedi is, in my opinion, the most well-written of the three. I also agree with you, Eva, about the visual beauty of it. The cinematography of Ach-To (filmed on an island off the coast of Ireland!) is especially breathtaking.

The Last Jedi’s greatest strength, however, lies in the way it handles each of the characters. One criticism of this film is that very few of the characters succeed in their goals. Poe is foiled by Admiral Holdo, Finn and Rose fail miserably in their mission, and Rey’s hopes of bringing Ben Solo back to the Light are dashed. But isn’t that how the second installment of any trilogy is supposed to be? This is the darkest hour; this is where our heroes must face their own fears (and demons) before they can confront the evil outside themselves. I love seeing the conflict and complexity within Poe, Finn, Rey, Luke, and Ben, and I love seeing each of them grow and change because of that conflict.

Talk about some of your favourite scenes in the trilogy!

Eva: Where to begin??? I guess I’ll mention a favorite scene from each film in the trilogy (otherwise, I could go on for the whole post, just talking about my favorite scenes). In The Force Awakens, a scene that stands out in my mind is Rey and Kylo’s forest battle. It’s an intense scene. Kylo has just murdered his own father–and he’s badly wounded. Despite his inner turmoil and physical pain, he still thinks he can crush Rey in a moment. Instead, she defeats (and scars) him before escaping on the Falcon. It’s a defining moment in both of their character arcs.

There are many, many scenes I love in The Last Jedi. Everything from the whole Poe subplot to Luke coming to the rescue on Crait to Yoda’s cameo. But I’m going to have to go with the Throne Room scene. What a rollercoaster! Kylo betrays Snoke, he and Rey fight off the Praetorian Guards (LOVE their teamwork), and then everything goes wrong again because neither Rey nor Kylo will swerve from the path they have chosen.

And then there’s The Rise of Skywalker, which contains a scene that makes me ugly cry: Han and Ben’s conversation. Kylo has been fighting his father throughout the trilogy–first, the ‘weakness’ inside him that he believes is Han’s fault, and then the memory of what he did to Han. With Han’s appearance (however it came about) and the cleansing conversation that ensues, Ben finally emerges from the shadow of Kylo–for good. Ben throwing away Kylo’s lightsaber is one of my favorite Star Wars moments, ever.

Maribeth: There’s one scene that surpasses all the others for me: the moment in The Rise of Skywalker when Rey realizes that Ben has come to help her fight Palpatine. I love the way her expression shifts from sheer terror, to wide-eyed disbelief, to the softest, sweetest look of joy and trust. And the way he looks at her, and then nods to let her know he’s got her back? PRICELESS! And don’t get me started on the twinkly, rather romantic version of the Force Theme playing in the background. It’s my favorite moment in all of Star Wars.

I will say, though, that the Throne Room scene from The Last Jedi is a very close second.

Eva: I also love that Reylo scene in RoS. For almost three whole movies, Rey has been trying desperately to bring Ben back to the light. So that moment where she realizes that Ben has finally renounced the darkness is loaded with significance–it works so well.

What do you think is the most unique thing about the ST as opposed to the other trilogies?

Eva: There are a few different things that feel unique to the Sequel Trilogy. For one, we have a female protagonist. Both the OT and the PT had a male Skywalker as the protagonist, while the Sequel Trilogy has Rey (a Palpatine, no less) as the heroine of all three films. While the Star Wars universe has always been home to amazing female characters (like our ICONIC QUEEN Leia), it’s cool to see Rey at the centre of the Sequel Trilogy.

A couple other differences between the Sequel Trilogy and the two previous trilogies: gorgeous visuals (often made possible through the use of CGI that simply wasn’t available for the first six Skywalker films) and more of a focus on the ‘everyman’ characters in the SW universe (like Rose or Finn–just a simple stormtrooper!–or even that stable boy in The Last Jedi). There’s so much that the Sequel Trilogy gives us that is fresh, new, and unique to Star Wars–while still remaining true to the spirit of the films that have come before.

Maribeth: Personally, I believe the characters of the Sequel Trilogy are far more believable and approachable than the characters of the Originals or Prequels. It also features a front-and-center female protagonist who is both tenderhearted and fierce, a balance rarely found in modern heroines. There’s also an epic realism to the “look” of the movies–the cinematography, the costumes, the ships and tools, etc.–that neither the limited-budget Originals nor the CGI-heavy Prequels have. For the first time, Star Wars actually felt real to me, and I believe that’s one of the Sequels’ strengths.

Which character do you admire the most? Which character do you relate to the most?

Eva: What character do I admire the most? Well, any answer besides Leia Organa-Solo is WRONG. So there’s that. XD (I kid, I kid…barely.) In all seriousness, I do have a huge amount of respect for Leia. And Luke. And Poe really managed to win me over in The Rise of Skywalker. His growth from a hotshot pilot to the leader of the entire Resistance fleet is pretty awesome. So there are several characters in the Sequel Trilogy who I admire!

As for which character I relate to the most, I have to say that Rey’s search for a father figure really struck a chord with me when I rewatched the trilogy recently. My dad passed away in 2017 and I do often wish I had a good, steady father figure. Throughout the course of the Sequel Trilogy, Rey had to learn that her identity, worth, and strength were not found in who her parents were (or weren’t), but rather found within herself. Star Wars isn’t a Christian franchise, so there are humanistic flaws in Rey’s character arc, but I still see parallels to myself. As a Christian, my own worth and identity are found in Christ–it’s just up to me to recognize that and accept it as the truth.

Maribeth: If it ever sounds like Rey is a huge reason why I love the Sequels, then I can confirm those suspicions, haha! I admire her strength, kindness, and optimism. I also relate to her struggles with identity and her disappointment when her idealistic hopes are crushed. Yet Rey never gives up. Her stubborn, cheerful hope and her courage as she stands on her true identity have inspired me on more than one occasion.

To be honest though, I find Finn very relatable, as well! I suspect he’s a stand-in for the audience: for example, he (like us) wonders, “Why does everyone want to go back to Jakku?!” He struggles with fear and a wild desire to run away and hide from danger, too, something I think we all understand. But Finn is also the “everyman hero,” overcoming his terrors and inspiring us to fight for what is good and right.

We have to talk about Kylo Ren/Ben Solo for a minute! What are your thoughts on this villain/hero/BEST CHARACTER EVER?

Eva: Ben Solo is my favorite character in the Sequel Trilogy, hands down. He would be my favorite Star Wars character in general, if another Ben hadn’t already stolen my heart. I’m a huge fan of well-written, complex, sympathetic villains, but it wasn’t until Kylo Ren flung away his lightsaber and became Ben Solo once again that I fell in love with the character. (I think I was too blinded by my hatred for what Kylo did to Han to really appreciate him before that.)

That’s not to say I don’t like both sides of the character now–I do! Rewatching the Sequel Trilogy has made me appreciate Ren a whole lot more. But those fifteen or so minutes that we got with Ben Solo? They were enough to make me obsessed for the rest of my life. XD As much as I love a good villain, I love a good redeemed villain even more. Ben gets a beautiful (if truncated) redemption arc. Adam Driver, amazing actor that he is, absolutely sells the change from Kylo to Ben–his screen presence literally feels lighter and more free. For almost the entire trilogy, Ben has been ‘torn in two’. But once he returns to the light, he knows exactly who he is and what he must do. And I love that!

Someday, I may write a blog post dedicated entirely to Kylo/Ben. There is so much to the character (and Adam Driver’s performance) that I could discuss. But for now, I’ll just say that Disney was an idiot for killing him off. That’s my professional (fangirl) opinion. 😉 There was so much more to be explored, so much potential for a more full, complicated, and captivating redemption arc! Ah well. I’ll just have to be satisfied with what we got.

Maribeth: Where do I begin when it comes to this character? I hated him with a passion after The Force Awakens, but now he’s one of my favorite heroes of all time. (Yes, I just called him a hero, and I’m sticking to it.) So what happened?

Well, the conversion of Ben Solo–AKA “the Bendemption”–happened. It began with Leia’s sacrifice, continued with Rey’s healing and Ben’s acceptance of Han’s love and forgiveness, and ended with Ben’s rejection of evil and his embrace of goodness and truth. Star Wars isn’t a “Christian story,” yet the Bendemption beautifully echoes the Prodigal Son parable, and it resonated with me in a deep, meaningful way. And then, if that wasn’t enough to sway me, Ben’s change of heart was powerfully portrayed by Adam Driver in his facial expressions and movements, and in the way he sacrificed himself so willingly for Rey. I mean, how could I not love him?!

Now that we have a complete trilogy (plus extra material like the comic series The Rise of Kylo Ren), I’m convinced that Ben Solo is the most tragic yet compelling character in all of Star Wars. He was preyed upon by Snoke/Palpatine from the time he was an infant; we really don’t give him enough credit for fighting off the Dark Side all by himself for the first 23 years of his life! And yes, he eventually succumbed to it of his own free will and did horrible things in the name of the First Order. But that wasn’t the end of his story. Let’s be real: Star Wars is really just a fairytale in outer space–and in both fairytales and ancient myth, fallen heroes are often redeemed through love and sacrifice. Ben Solo’s story is nothing short of a modern fairytale, and that’s part of why I love it so much.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him, though. No one is ever really gone in Star Wars, and methinks that, given the right story and the right director, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley will return. Just give it some time, folks.

Maribeth: Okay, I’m gonna hop back onto my Fairytale Soapbox here, haha! I love the Dyad’s story; in fact, I wrote a whole post about its mythological/fairytale roots last year on my blog. Basically, Rey and Ben’s story shares a lot of parallels with stories like Beauty and the Beast, the myth of Eros and Psyche, and even Jane Eyre. All these tales focus on the redemption of a fallen hero through the persistent kindness and compassion of an intelligent heroine…which is exactly what happens between Rey and Ben.

I’ve always loved stories like this, so it was probably only a matter of time before I became a full-blown “Reylo” fanatic. In fact, I once saw a tweet that said, “If you were a Beauty and the Beast fan as a kid, you’re a Reylo fan now.” Guilty as charged on both counts.

Now, here’s the big question: do I ship Rey with Kylo Ren? NO, not at all. But do I ship Rey with Ben Solo? YES, absolutely. Rey herself said as much: she wanted Ben’s hand, not Kylo’s. I support a healthy, well-adjusted Reylo, not a toxic one.

Eva: AGREED. I only ship Reylo if the ‘lo’ stands for Ben SoLO and not KyLO Ren. 😉

I think the Dyad is a beautiful concept, and one that makes for some pretty amazing scenes. (The hand touch in TLJ! Kylo grabbing the necklace from Rey! THE LIGHTSABER HAND-OFF!) Although I do ship Rey and Ben, I am of the opinion that their relationship goes beyond a simple romantic attachment (not that there’s anything wrong with romance for romance’s sake). They are uniquely bonded through the Force, truly soulmates in every sense of the word. Like I said, it’s beautiful.

John Williams knocked it out of the park (as usual) with his scoring for the sequel trilogy. What are some of your favourite musical moments in the Sequel Trilogy?

Maribeth: “Rey’s Theme” is a masterpiece. The wind instruments, the whimsical chimes, the soaring strings, and the three different “mini-themes” within the broader score are just wonderful.

I’m also very fond of “Peace and Purpose” from The Last Jedi soundtrack, and “The Rise of Skywalker” from, you guessed it, The Rise of Skywalker. I once heard a theory (but I forget where I heard it–sorry) that, given certain similarities with Kylo Ren’s theme, the latter track might’ve been originally intended as a redeemed Ben Solo’s theme…or maybe even Ben and Rey’s “love theme,” similar to Anakin and Padme’s “Across the Stars.”

Eva: I agree about Rey’s theme! Absolutely wonderful, and so perfect for her.

Honestly, I haven’t really listened to the soundtracks for the sequel trilogy–at least, not the soundtracks on their own. So my answer is more based on what I’ve heard in the movies. One moment that really stands out to me is the scoring for the final scene of The Force Awakens (‘The Jedi Steps and Finale’). Although I know now that Luke is just going to throw that lightsaber away, that fact doesn’t take away from the impact of Rey finally finding ‘the last Jedi’. And the music in that scene? Brilliant. It starts out quietly, wistfully as Rey searches for Luke on Ahch-To, but then builds and builds. I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

I also love ‘The Spark’ from The Last Jedi. (I guess I have a thing for Luke moments in SW soundtracks?) You get the Force theme, Leia’s theme, AND hints of the Imperial March, all wrapped up in new scoring for one of the best scenes in the sequel trilogy. *heart eyes* Literally so good.

Even with our deep love for the Sequel Trilogy, we know that it’s not perfect…what’s one thing you would have changed about it?

Maribeth: If I could change one thing, I’d make General Hux the main First Order villain in The Rise of Skywalker. Neither he nor Kylo, in my opinion, act in that movie in a way that’s consistent with their actions or personalities in The Last Jedi. I think it would’ve made far more sense if an extremely miserable, conflicted Kylo had defected to the Resistance at the beginning, giving him a chance to work with Rey against a common enemy (not to mention a chance to fall in love with her properly and in person!). Hux, meanwhile, would’ve taken over and formed an alliance with Palpatine. (Alternate version: Hux overthrows Kylo, who escapes to the Resistance.) I suspect Rian Johnson was setting up something similar: after all, Hux nearly murders an unconscious Kylo in The Last Jedi. I can’t help but wonder if Rian assumed Hux would lead a coup against Kylo and take over the First Order at some point.

Eva: I am a Domhnall Gleeson fan AND a Hux fan, so I would have loved to see that as well. I was so shocked when Hux was summarily shot in The Rise of Skywalker! Sigh.

Now, as for what I would change…well. *rubs hands together with glee*

Rey should have been a Kenobi.

I just? It would be SO PERFECT, you guys. Maribeth posits that Rey should have been both a Kenobi and a Palpatine, and I think that would have been good too–Rey’s struggle with the dark side is too fascinating for me to want it removed from the narrative. But I want her to be a Kenobi first and foremost! Can you imagine the storytelling potential? The granddaughter of Obi-Wan and the grandson of Anakin restoring balance to the Force and ending Palpatine’s reign of terror once and for all. I CAN’T. I’m going to get choked up just thinking about it.

Plus, it just makes sense considering the legacy of the first two trilogies. In both the OT and the PT, the relationship between a Skywalker and a Kenobi is pivotal. Anakin and Obi-Wan, and then Luke and Ben. Obi-Wan was a consistent presence in the Star Wars universe…up until the sequel trilogy. He was alluded to once (“it was a Jedi Master who trained Darth Vader”) and named once (but only when R2 replays the “help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi” message for Luke). And that’s it! (Well, besides voice cameos in TFA and RoS.) My guy deserves better, and having Rey be his granddaughter would have *cough* restored the balance in my opinion.

What are your concluding thoughts on the trilogy as a whole?

Eva: Even with all the gushing I’ve done throughout this post, I’ll be the first to admit that the Sequel Trilogy is not perfect. What Star Wars property is? (Well, besides Rogue One.) From its troubled production history to some weak storytelling choices and dialogue (“Somehow, Palpatine returned” *face palm*), the Sequel Trilogy has its share of flaws. But you know what? I still love all three films–very, very much. The Prequel Trilogy is still my favorite, but the Sequel Trilogy holds a special place in my heart. The ST gave me Ben Solo. It gave me an epic battle between good and evil. It gave me The Last Jedi. And, most of all, it gave me more Star Wars. At the end of the day, that’s all I ever really wanted. ❤

Maribeth: I believe that the Sequels will eventually rise to the same adored status as the once-vilified Prequels. I say that with confidence because I know there are children out there who were introduced to Star Wars through the characters of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Ben–and those characters will stay with them as they grow up, even if they’re too small at the moment to understand why. Sure, we can nitpick the plot points and grumble at Disney till the cows come home, but at the end of the day, even little children respond to stories of kindness, courage, and victory over darkness. The Sequels, flawed as they are, still celebrate those three things–and that’s why I believe they’ll endure.


It has been a blast, collaborating on this post–and sharing it with all of you! It ‘s always so fun to spend some time talking about that galaxy far, far away. We’d dearly love to hear your thoughts on our answers, the Sequel Trilogy, and your love for Star Wars in general.

Eva-Joy (& Maribeth)

in defense of Edward Rochester.

Well, I never thought I would be writing a blog post with that title.

You see, I am not a Rochester fangirl. I don’t much like him for 98% of Jane Eyre, and even when he’s at his best he’s never really come close to being one of my favorite fictional men. But I have recently seen a few anti-Rochester reels on Instagram, and they are what prompted me to write this post. I don’t object to anti-Rochester reels/posts in general—he’s not perfect, and we shouldn’t try to pretend that he is. But those reels left out a significant part of Rochester’s story (arguably the most significant part) in favor of hating on him and saying that Jane should not have married him. And that wasn’t okay, for me. My indignation rose (just ask my sister, haha) and I knew I had to channel that into this blog post. XD

Just a brief caveat: although this post is more or less a response to those reels I saw, I do not want to call anyone out or make anyone feel like an bad person for disliking/hating Rochester. He’s a fictional character, he does some pretty despicable things, and I’m not here to police your opinions. 😉 I simply want to give a more well-rounded look at the character and make some arguments in his defense (almost a devil’s advocate moment, if you will).

With all that said, let’s get into my defense of Rochester! We’ll start, of course, by looking at his bad points—because I don’t want to gloss over those. They must be addressed, and they’re important to the story/his character arc.

THE PROBLEM(S) WITH EDWARD ROCHESTER

The fact that Rochester has been portrayed by so many exceedingly handsome men is not one of his bad points.
(source)

Rochester has issues. Real issues.

He lies to Jane. He gaslights and manipulates her. He hides Bertha in his attic. He has the mindset that, because he has had grave misfortunes in life, he deserves to take whatever tawdry, sensual pleasure he can get from the world. For most of the book, Rochester unequivocally sees himself as the victim, and makes no effort to change or improve himself or move on with his life. These are all real problems with his character, and honestly? It doesn’t quite make sense to me why Jane would fall for him in the first place.

So I am not denying Rochester’s flaws. They are many! I do, however, want to say something about Rochester’s backstory. While a tragic past is no excuse to indulge in sin and general bad behavior, understanding Rochester’s backstory is essential to understanding his character. As a young man, Rochester was tricked into a marriage with a woman who turned out to be quite the opposite from what he expected. And I’m not talking about Bertha’s mental illness, so much as the fact that Rochester found “her nature wholly alien to mine; her tastes obnoxious to me; her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher…whatever topic I started, immediately received from her a turn at once coarse and trite, perverse and imbecile.”

Rochester tells Jane he would still love her (Jane), even if she were ‘mad’. Rochester does not hate Bertha because she mentally ill, but because of her character in general (though that is still no excuse to hate anybody, I will say). There is a LOT to unpackage regarding Rochester and Bertha, and I don’t feel qualified to do so (nor is that the purpose of this post). After all, my defense of Rochester is not based upon ‘he had a tragic backstory and therefore all his actions are excusable’. He certainly could have made better choices and lived a far more wholesome life. But his marriage was a severe blow all the same, and we can’t pretend that it wasn’t.

ROCHESTER IS NOT ALL BAD

I know, it sounds insane. XD But it’s true!

I feel as though the whole ‘Bertha was better cared for at Thornfield than she would have been in a Victorian mental institution’ has been discussed a lot. (A friend of mine wrote a whole blog post about the subject, and it’s Excellent.) So I’m not really going to get into it, except to say that it’s true and that Rochester really does his best to see that Bertha is comfortable and safe.

“Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be: let her—” [Mason] stopped and burst into tears.

“I do my best; and have done it, and will do it,” was the answer: [Rochester] shut up the chaise door, and the vehicle drove away.

Jane Eyre, Chapter XX

Besides the matter of Bertha, and Rochester’s rightness and wrongness in his dealings with her, there are a couple other points I’d like to consider. Adele is one. Yes, Rochester is rather rude to her—I’m not excusing that. But, as they say, actions speak louder than words. Although Rochester wasn’t sure that Adele was his child, he still rescued her after her mother abandons her, brought her to his own house, and took on the responsibility of caring for and educating her. Now, you could argue that it was simply what he should have done (considering Adele might be his child), and that Rochester shouldn’t get any praise for being a decent human being. True enough, in a way. But considering that Celine had betrayed him, and that Rochester could have very easily left Adele in Paris with zero consequences in this life, I believe his actions reveal that he is not as hardened and implacable as he appears (or as he likes to portray himself).

And now we come to something that, no matter what, guarantees there will always be a place in my heart for Rochester: the fact that he tried to rescue Bertha from the fire. Rochester made sure that all the servants were out, and then he went back inside the blazing house to rescue Bertha. She was not in her room, but instead on the roof of Thornfield Hall. Rochester climbed after her, Bertha jumped, the house collapsed in flames, and Rochester was maimed and blinded as a result. Rochester’s heroism in running into a burning Thornfield Hall to ensure that all the servants and Bertha were safe…I do love it. When the moment of crisis came, he did not dwell on his bitterness or hatred, but instead leaped into the chaos and did all he could do for his wife.

There’s also the fact that he did not run away to Europe and engage in a life of dissipation after Jane left him. He didn’t allow himself to be “[flung] back on lust for a passion—vice for an occupation”. You would expect him to do so! Jane was gone, forever. Rochester said that he abhorred Thornfield Hall until Jane came to it. He certainly had the means and motivation to fall back into his old ways. But he didn’t. Jane was still influencing him, even though she was no longer at Thornfield Hall.

A STORY OF REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS

One of the themes found within Jane Eyre is that of forgiveness. Near the beginning of the story, Jane passionately tells her aunt Reed exactly what she thinks of Mrs. Reed’s cruelness. Jane also says that she will never visit Mrs. Reed, and never call her ‘aunt’ again. And yet, years later, when Jane learns that Mrs. Reed is very ill, she returns to Gateshead and forgives her aunt fully and freely for all past wrongs. This harks back to Helen’s talk with Jane much earlier in the book, where she tells Jane that it is important to love one’s enemies and follow the teachings found within the Bible.

Later, when Rochester’s deception has been discovered, he asks Jane if she can ever forgive him. Jane forgives him ‘at the moment and on the spot’. But it’s not only Jane’s forgiveness that Rochester needs—he needs to repent and seek God’s forgiveness as well. Jane knew this from the very beginning, if Rochester did not, and she directs him toward that course during one of their very first conversations at Thornfield Hall.

“Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life.”

“Repentance is said to be its cure, sir.”

Jane Eyre, Chapter XIV

Rochester brushes off Jane’s words at the time, but eventually he takes them to heart—and that leads to his redemption.

“Of late, Jane—only—only of late—I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were, but very sincere.”

Jane Eyre, Chapter XXXVII

And it is this redemption that I’ve seen ignored over and over again in those Instagram reels. Those reels judge and condemn Rochester for his sins, while neglecting to acknowledge his remorse, repentance, and redemption. Rochester’s repentance is not something he faked so that he could marry Jane. When he repented and began to turn to God, he had no hope of ever meeting Jane again. Rochester’s repentance was true and heartfelt, his redemption brought about not by his own striving but by God’s forgiveness and aid.

I see people complain when others view Jane and Rochester’s relationship as romantic. I see those same people claim that Jane and Rochester’s relationship is toxic. And you know what? They’re right! Manipulation and deception are toxic traits. Additionally, employer/employee relationships are difficult to root for, because of the power imbalance. Rochester has a lot of issues and Jane was right to leave him the first time. Their ‘first relationship’ is not romantic.

But you know what is romantic?

Jane and Rochester supernaturally hearing each other’s voices across the moors because they have each placed themselves in God’s care and submitted themselves to His will. Rochester hardly able to believe that Jane is really there, when he has longed for her for so long. Jane choosing to be Rochester’s wife, not caring about his blindness or missing hand—even when he expects her to leave him. That is romantic, folks. That is earned. And it was made possible because Rochester repented of his past sins and sought God.

If you want a TL;DR of this post, it’s this: Rochester’s redemption arc is why I will always defend him.

IN CONCLUSION

Looking at Jane Eyre with modern eyes has both its benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that we are able to more clearly examine Rochester’s toxic behavior, gaslighting, etc. and draw attention to how wrong those actions are. Bad behaviors that were perhaps more readily ignored in relationships back in the day are not as easily tolerated now. And that’s a good thing!

But there is also a downside to a modern look at Jane Eyre. Our culture these days is an unforgiving one. Many people do not understand the concept of forgiveness and redemption, especially as our culture moves farther and farther away from Biblical truths. And this leads to people ignoring Rochester’s repentance, choosing instead of focus on his past wrongdoings. That just isn’t fair to his character, or to the story that Charlotte Brontë was trying to tell: a story of redemption, a story of the importance of standing by your principles—and the good that comes of doing so.

Obviously, none of us have to love, like, or accept Mr. Rochester. But neither should we judge him solely by his past, without also taking his repentance and redemption into account.

Rochester didn’t deserve mercy, but it was granted to him all the same. We, all of us, need mercy from the same Source. In that way, as hard as it may be to believe, we are not so very different from Rochester himself.


Something of a side note, but I highly suggest listening to Jane Eyre: The Musical for its wonderful portrayal of forgiveness, Jane’s faith, and the change that came over Rochester after the fire. I mean, there is literally a song called ‘Forgiveness’ (sung by Helen). I can’t recommend the musical enough, for fans of Jane Eyre! And of course there is also the original book and a plethora of film and TV adaptions (some far better than others). All in all, I dearly love the story, Jane herself, and the beautiful tale of redemption woven throughout the book.

Has this post helped you see Rochester in a new light? Or have you always liked him? Or do you completely disagree with me? XD Whatever the case, I’d love it if you commented! Jane Eyre is such a rich story, and I’ll never tire of discussing it. ❤

Eva-Joy

my top ten favorites books of 2021.

It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone is wrapping up the year by posting a bunch of recaps and ‘top ten’ lists. And I’m joining in! For this post, I’ll be looking only at books that I watched for the first time in 2021. I’m excited to share this list with you (and figure it out for myself), so let’s get right into it!

MY TOP TEN FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021

(This list is numbered, but the rankings are very subjective besides the #1 spot.)

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – 2021 certainly was my Year of Tolkien, and I actually read LOTR twice this year. What a truly magnificent book. The world of Middle-earth, its many characters, and the gripping battle between good and evil are all on full display in Tolkien’s masterpiece. Deciding on my top favorite book of 2021 was easy: it had to be The Lord of the Rings.

2. Seventh City by Emily Hayse – While my focus during much of 2021 was on Tolkien, I discovered another favorite author during the last few months of the year. Emily Hayse has a talent for creating characters that I love and adore and connect with in a pretty intense way. Seventh City is a tale of adventure, friendship, and danger–and I highly recommend its companion anthology The Rivers Lead Home.

3. These War-Torn Hands by Emily Hayse – It took Seventh City to get me to read the Knights of Tin and Lead books, but I’m hooked now. Hayse has created a vivid, breathtakingly fierce land that is based on the American Old West. Her descriptive worldbuilding has been praised by many (and for good reason), but it is the characters in this series who keep me coming back for more.

4. The Beautiful Ones by Emily Hayse – The sequel to These War-Torn Hands, The Beautiful Ones ups the stakes, introduces a few new characters (LOVE ‘EM), and gives us further reasons to root for the returning cast. I am VERY eagerly anticipating the third and final book of the series, In the Glorious Fields.

5. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien – Still proud of myself for reading this in its entirety. I know that it is not a ‘proper’ book written by Tolkien, but rather a collection of various manuscripts and snippets, all compiled by his son Christopher. But the book still flows smoothly and there is a greatness to it that can’t be denied.

6. On the Shoulders of Hobbits by Louis A. Markos – Rich, well-written, entertaining, and deep. I was surprised by how much meat there was to this book. So often, modern devotionals (especially those based on popular culture) can be somewhat surface-level. But this book was not! Markos drew from both LOTR and Narnia to help guide Christians as they journey through life.

7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Middle grade Middle-earth for the win! Besides the fact that The Hobbit is a good, simple, engaging adventure story, it’s also neat to see characters like Elrond and Gandalf in a somewhat lighter setting. A charming, heartwarming book filled with dry British wit and starring ‘the bravest little hobbit of them all’.

8. Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss – So encouraging/convicting!

9. The Goblin and the Dancer by Allison Tebo – I always enjoy Allison’s books (and her friendship!), but The Goblin and the Dancer was truly something special. From its themes of forgiveness, acceptance, and light in the darkness to the ‘dynamic trio’ of Grik, Rosanna, and Paul…I loved it all! Another book of Allison’s that I read and enjoyed this year was Poppy’s Peril. (It juuuust missed the top ten.)

10. Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes – Am I surprised that a mainstream historical Christian fiction book made its way onto this list? Yep. Do I doubt the decision? Nope. Months after reading Yours in the Night, I am still thinking about it, still finding myself moved by the memory of the story, still halfway in love with Matthew Petticrew. *sniffles* Soooo good.


Well, there you have it! My top ten favorite books of 2021. What about you? What were some of the best books you read this year? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

my favorite episode(s?) from a bunch of old TV shows.

In case that title was a bit confusing, here’s what I’m doing in this post: I’m going to take several of my favorite old TV shows and then talk about my top favorite episode from each one. I feel like I don’t talk enough about my favorite classic shows (and there are several I love). So this post today will begin to rectify that!

COMBAT! – ‘The Hostages’

Saunders, Caje, and Doc are taken captive by a couple German soldiers in a town that had supposedly been cleared out. Saunders and Caje are held as hostages to force Doc into helping the Germans escape. Since Doc is my favorite Combat! character, it’s no surprise that this episode is my favorite. Conlan Carter got an Emmy nomination for his performance in ‘The Hostages’, after all–well-deserved too! Additionally, the main villain is absolutely chilling (I can never trust Mark Richman in other roles now, lol). And the plot is tense. Simply an excellent episode all around.

RAT PATROL – ‘The Chain of Death Raid’

It’s been aaaages since I last watched a Rat Patrol episode, but you can’t get much better than Troy and Dietrich being forced to cooperate in order to survive in a North African desert. To be honest, Rat Patrol is not the *cough* greatest show on the planet. 😉 But it is still rather a nostalgic favorite. And Eric Braeden/Hans Gudegast is pretty fun to watch!

GET SMART – ‘The Expendable Agent’

Choosing a favorite Get Smart episode was a little hard–partly because there are so many good ones and partly because I don’t have an intense love for any one episode. But the hijinks in ‘The Expendable Agent’ are very fun, and there’s a rather good plot twist at the end.

Hogan’s Heroes is a really goofy, crazy sitcom. But occasionally, it moves beyond the goofiness to be genuinely moving and heartwarming. ‘Reverend Kommandant Klink’ is one such episode. A new POW is about to give the Germans important information. In order to prevent this, Hogan & Co. work things out so the POW can marry his sweetheart. And if that doesn’t really make any sense, it’s okay. It’s a convoluted storyline, like so many sitcom plots tend to be. What matters is that the heroes are splendid, the wedding is super sweet, and some of the dialogue is just plain hilarious.

GILLIGAN’S ISLAND – ‘The Producer’

The castaways workshop a Hamlet musical. It’s great.

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE – ‘Secret Ballot’

I wrote an extensive blog post about this episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive, so I’ll send you over there. TL;DR – Plenty of character development, plot, and heartache make this episode a stand-out in an overall top-notch show.

THE FUGITIVE – ‘Nightmare at Northoak’

Richard Kimble enters a small town and ends up saving a busload of children + the driver from burning to death. The townspeople are hugely grateful to him, naturally…and then they find out that he’s a fugitive. Kimble is imprisoned, about to be dragged back to death row by Gerard. But the townspeople just might have other ideas, seeing as how Kimble saved the lives of everyone’s kids. ❤ I haven’t seen very many episodes of The Fugitive, but I can’t imagine there’d be many I’d like better than ‘Nightmare at Northoak’.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ‘Submarine’

THIS EPISODE. First of all, it’s hugely nostalgic. (Almost all of Season 4 is, actually.) But beyond that, Submarine is such a good M:I episode in general. To make an old Nazi tell them where he’s hidden tons of money, the M:I team make the guy believe he’s on a submarine, being taken back to Germany. The plot is legitimately tense and all the actors involved do a great job (including in-universe, with making the Nazi believe he’s on a submarine and all that). And the ending? ICONIC.

BONANZA – ‘Death at Dawn’

And now we come to the reason I wanted to write this post in the first place: so I could highlight this expectational episode. When I was growing up, there were two episodes of Bonanza that my siblings and I would watch over and over again. One was ‘The Abduction’ (we liked the novelty of the circus setting). The other was ‘Death at Dawn’.

Virginia City is being corrupted by a Big Bad who was originally brought in to keep peace in the mines, but who has since overstepped his bounds. One of the guy’s thugs murders a storekeeper and is set to hang for the crime. But then the Big Bad kidnaps Ben, saying that he’ll hang Ben if his own man is hung. What follows is a desperate search for Ben and then, as the minutes swiftly tick away, Adam having to make an agonizing choice: do what he knows to be right and effectively sentence his father to death, or capitulate to the bad guys.

Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Bonanza, I have no hesitation in recommending you watch ‘Death at Dawn’. It is a fully formed, miniature western movie. Everyone on-screen is given depth and character development, whether it’s the Cartwrights or the one-episode-only characters. Adam in particular gets a chance to shine, as the decision-maker in the Cartwright family once Ben has been kidnapped. (That makes me very happy, since Adam is my favorite character on the show.) And Ben gets a couple Moments of Awesome while he’s a prisoner. All in all, it’s an awesome episode. And it’s free on YouTube!


Have you seen any of the episodes I talked about in this post? What are some of your favorite TV show episodes? Do let me know in the comments! ❤

Eva-Joy

‘dragonheart’: a tale of wasted potential.

Sigh.

That’s about the only appropriate response to a movie like Dragonheart (1996). When I decided to write a blog post about the film for the Bond, Not Bond Blogathon, I didn’t remember just how bad a movie it was. This afternoon, I sat down to watch it with my little brothers–and it didn’t take very long before I started fast-forwarding scenes. Not because of inappropriate content or anything like that. No, it’s just that Dragonheart is so DULL. 😛

But bad movies can make for entertaining blog posts, so I thought I’d share a few ways in which Dragonheart wasted the chance it had to be an actually awesome film.

How can a story about revenge, betrayal, and a dragon-human life bond be this boring?

Here’s the basic plot of Dragonheart: Bowen, a knight of the Old Code (think: code of chivalry), is tasked with training Prince Einon. Einon is wounded in the same battle that kills his father, and is taken to a dragon who heals Einon by giving Einon half of its heart (just go with it). Twelve years later, Einon has become a horrible, despotic king. Bowen is convinced that Einon’s evil is the dragon’s fault, and he sets himself the task of killing all dragons. Finally, he comes to the very last dragon, Draco. An unlikely bond ends up forming between them and Bowen leads a rebellion against Einon. The only catch is that because Einon and Draco share a heart, they can feel each other’s pain…and the death of one will lead to the death of the other.

There are SO MANY opportunities for juicy, riveting, heartbreaking drama with a story like that. Like, Revenge of the Sith-level tragedy and angst and betrayal. One example: what if the filmmakers had really dug deep into Bowen’s guilt over Einon going bad (since Bowen was the prince’s teacher)? But instead of doing that, Dragonheart teeters between a lighthearted (and cringy) comedy and the (potentially) devastating, emotional story that I would have liked to see. There’s no tonal coherence. And, above all, it’s a very monotonous film. I don’t feel a connection to any of the characters, and that’s probably because of bad directing, bad dialogue, and bad delivery of that dialogue. Which leads into my next point.

Acting? What’s acting?

Dragonheart contains some good actors, no doubt about that: Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, Jason Isaacs, and, y’know, Sean Connery. And yet, it also contains some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen in a Hollywood film. I love Quaid in The Parent Trap and I Can Only Imagine, but he is both grating and flat as Bowen. David Thewlis turns in the best performance, as the thoroughly awful Einon, but the character is so awful that he’s not a lot of fun to watch. And Sean Connery? He does a pretty good job voicing Draco, but there were still some awkward moments. His voice acting could have been better, but I suppose it could have been worse too. *shrugs*

And that’s the thing about almost any aspect of Dragonheart: I just end up feeling kind of meh about it. However, there is one part of the film I do really love…

Can a truly wonderful musical score save Dragonheart?

Okay, the answer to that question is ‘no’. If anything, Dragonheart’s amazing soundtrack only highlights the mediocrity of everything else onscreen (and teases us with the idea of what might have been, if the movie had lived up to its music). But still. I LOVE the soundtrack. I listened to it on repeat while writing King’s Winter, so it will always be associated with that. Honestly, I think it’s a better association than the original movie. 😉


There! I’ve written about Dragonheart! Even without the blogathon, I’ve been kinda wanting to revisit the film and talk about it on this blog. I’m glad I did so, if only to know for certain that it’s not a movie I need to rewatch any time soon. I do hope I haven’t greatly offended any fans of the film! Dragonheart does have a certain charm (despite all the negative things I’ve said). And I can especially see it being a nostalgic favorite. ❤

Have you watched Dragonheart? What did you think of it?

Eva-Joy

five times “It’s a Wonderful Life” made me cry.

Did you know that 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of It’s a Wonderful Life? I actually didn’t know that until I found The Classic Movie Muse’s blogathon, created to honor the film. I just finished rewatching It’s a Wonderful Life, so I’m definitely full of love for it at the moment. ❤ The fact that it’s still such a huge favorite of so many people after so many years just speaks to how good of a movie it is!

There are so many things I could say about the film, but for this blog post I’m going to focus on a few scenes that never fail to bring tears to my eyes. #funtimes Now let’s travel back to Bedford Falls!


I. THE PRAYERS OF THE TOWN

“Help him, dear Father.” “Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.” “Help my son, George, tonight.” “I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.” “Please God, something’s the matter with Daddy.”

I’m not going to lie: just rereading those quotes made me tear up. As It’s a Wonderful Life begins, the camera pans over the quiet town of Bedford Falls. Well, quiet on the outside perhaps–inside their homes, people pour out their hearts on behalf of George Bailey, calling on the only One Who can save him from himself.

This is an intriguing start to the film, one that makes us instantly interested in just who this ‘Mr. Bailey/George’ person is. And of course it also gives us a hint of the spiritual/supernatural elements that are so crucial to the story. All in all, a truly excellent (and tear-jerking) first scene.

II. MARY GIVES AWAY THE HONEYMOON FUND

“How much do you need?”

George sacrificed so much of himself to keep Bailey Building & Loan going, but let’s not forget the sacrifices that Mary made as well! Her selflessness is wonderfully demonstrated in the scene where she gives up her and George’s honeymoon money so that Bailey Building & Loan can remain open (and remain the only Potter-free business in town).

Just a few minutes earlier, she’d been begging George to not stop at the Building & Loan (knowing he’d probably become embroiled in whatever the trouble was). But when she understands the seriousness of the situation, Mary gives up the fancy honeymoon she and George had planned–and she makes me tear up as well. She is just as much of a heroic character as George!

III. GEORGE FINDS HIS BROTHER’S GRAVE

“Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry.”

This is one small moment in the midst of George’s journey through Pottersville. But it hits hard every time. Besides the fact that Harry drowned and all those soldiers died, there’s also the fact that Harry was someone of whom George could always be proud. Someone through whom George could see his dreams realized. Harry went to collage, was successful, and became a decorated hero. And George didn’t resent that! He loved his little brother and did everything he could to see Harry succeed. So George realizing that Harry died long ago and never got a chance to live his life…it hurts.

IV. GEORGE WANTS TO LIVE AGAIN

“Please! I want to live again. I want to live again…please, God, let me live again.”

After already coming to the end of himself one time that evening, George is once again brought to that lowest point. But this time, instead of eyeing the churning waters of the river and preparing to throw himself in, he cries out to God. And God answers. It’s the most powerful moment in the whole film, to me. Absolutely wonderful.

V. THE TOWN TO THE RESCUE

“A toast…to my big brother George. The richest man in town!”

In true Frank Capra fashion, It’s a Wonderful Life ends on a high note. Sentimental and a little sappy, sure. But it’s an earned happy ending. George has earned it. We, the viewers, have earned it. And it’s cathartic, in a way, getting to see everyone happy and holiday-bright after we’ve witnessed the horrors of Pottersville. Harry is alive after all, George has Mary and the kids, and dear Clarence gets his wings! How can you not shed a few happy tears? ❤


Of course, these aren’t the only five moments in It’s a Wonderful Life that make me cry. 😉 But they’re the main ones. What about you? What are some of your favorite tear-jerking moments in this very tear-jerking film? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

Remember the Outlaws: My Love for BBC’s Robin Hood

My very last Femnista article, all about a TV show that is extremely near and dear to my heart. ❤

Femnista

Being a Robin Hood fan is practically in my blood. My dad was half-British and, during part of his teen years, lived near Nottinghamshire. He would tell my siblings and me stories about visiting a giant tree—probably the Major Oak, which was (supposedly) the tree in which Robin Hood would hide when hunted. I also grew up with the classic 1938 Errol Flynn film and, of course, the 1973 animated Robin Hood. The daring outlaw and his band of men have been a part of my life for quite some time, so it was a pretty sure thing I would at least enjoy BBC’s take on the Robin Hood legend.

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the Smashing & Dashing Character Awards—2021 edition.

It’s that time of year again, folks! Time to fangirl over a bunch of different fictional characters, through means of giving out the awards created by C.G. Drews. Although I haven’t read a ton of books this year, I did meet soooo many AMAZING characters. Mainly because 2021 was the year I fell in love with all things Tolkien. I could easily fill out this entire tag with only Tolkien characters, but I will restrain myself. 😉 (Especially since there are other characters I do want to highlight.) With all that being said, let’s get into the tag!

Most Relatable Character

Éowyn. Of course. Honestly, I’ve never related to a fictional character more than I relate to her—for a variety of reasons! Her hopeless crush on an amazing guy (don’t worry, I’ve moved on from my own ‘Aragorn’ *wink*), her relationship with Théoden, her love for Faramir…yes, yes, and yes!

Most Pure Animal Companion

BILL THE PONY MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS. Usually I don’t care about that much about animal characters in books, but Bill is different. Bill is the unofficial tenth member of the Fellowship. Bill and Sam are bffs. Bill gets his own character arc. He’s one of the (mostly) unsung heroes of LOTR!

Fiercest Fighter

This award goes jointly to Alan Swift and Rosamund Lacey-Scott in These War-Torn Hands (by Emily Hayse). Their trek across the Western Territory desert and all the challenges they face as they do so won my admiration, respect, and love. Runners-up would be Aragorn, Éomer, and the main trio in The Goblin and the Dancer by Allison Tebo.

Am Surprised That I Loved You??

Paul from The Goblin and the Dancer, one hundred percent. I went into the story thinking that I’d like him (despite knowing his character was awful at first). Then I hated him. But by the end of the story, after seeing him change and grow and overcome so much, I loved him. The fact that Allison Tebo was able to make me go through the whoooooole spectrum of emotions when it came to Paul just shows how good of a writer she is!

Best Sassmaster

Peregrin Took. Of course he’s an idiot/comic relief in the film trilogy, but he really gets some of the funniest and wittiest zingers in the book. Sassy British humor at its finest!

Best Antihero

Probably Grik from The Goblin and the Dancer? (To be honest, I had a difficult time coming up with an answer to this because I’m not entirely sure what constitutes an antihero.) Grik does a pretty awful thing near the beginning of the book and then spends the rest of the story hiding what he’s done while also trying to make amends. So I guess that’s pretty antihero-ish! There’s also a couple western characters (Jack Selby from These War-Torn Hands and Shane from Shane) who aren’t traditional hero types, but who are amazing nonetheless. Perhaps they count as well!

The Best Friends Of All

The fellowship of the ring!!! I love each of them separately, but as a group they are a million times more awesome. It’s incredibly sad (to me) that they are only a whole, complete fellowship from Rivendell to Moria. After that, they’re never all back together–but the remaining members ‘hold true to each other’ and, so, the fellowship endures even in fractured form. They are eternally bound by friendship, as Frodo says near the end of the ROTK movie, and I LOVE IT.

Best Villain To HATE

Morgoth (The Silmarillion) is utterly horrible. I loathe him. Runners-up are Maria Pike (Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy), Sauron (LOTR), and Innes (Seventh City).

Award For Best vs Worst YA Parents

(I hardly ever read YA these days, so I’m tweaking this award a bit.)

BEST: Um, wow, apparently there aren’t a lot of parents (good or bad) in the fifty-something books I read this year! So while I’m choosing to fill most of these categories with new-to-me-in-2021 fictional characters, I’m going to go with an old standby for this one: Joe and Marian Starrett (Shane). Great parents, great spouses, and great friends to Shane. ❤

WORST: Denethor, steward of Gondor. It’s not even a contest. (Okay, Fëanor was a pretty bad dad as well. But at least he never tried to burn one of his sons alive.)

Ship Of All Ships In 2021

Faramir and Éowyn! Although their romance gets only a chapter or so in LOTR, the section of the book in which Faramir helps Éowyn heal and, finally, wins her heart is beautiful. I also very much ship the main couple in Rachel Kovaciny’s newest Once Upon a Western novel (as yet unpublished–I was a beta reader!), as well as Archer/Rosamund and Raymond/Irene (the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy).

Most Precious, Must Be Protected

There are a lot of characters who could fit this category. I’m going to go with Frodo. He’s my favorite LOTR character and he really did not deserve to go through all that he went through. Give him a shock blanket and some hot cocoa! Instead of a sprightly ‘there and back again’ adventure in which he was always the ingenious hero, his health and life and spirit were all wrecked by the burden of the ring (he still was very much a hero, just not in the same way as Bilbo). Feel free to check out this post for more of my thoughts on Frodo. ❤

Honestly Surprised You’re Still Alive

Again…SO MANY OPTIONS. Maybe Aragorn? The guy has done so much fighting against some of the very worst that Middle-earth has to offer (the Nazgûl, anyone?), and he’s been in the thick of things for way longer than most humans in Middle-earth on account of his Dúnedain heritage. Kind of a wonder he survived to become king of Gondor. O.o

Award For Making The Worst Decisions

I created an OC this year that makes several extremely idiotic decisions in the course of his story, decisions that are all-around bad for both him and his family. (Hoping to share more about the story in the future when I can be less vague lol.) Anyway, yeah, he definitely gets the award. (Even if it’s my own story.)

Most In Need Of A Nap

MY PRECIOUS ARCHER SCOTT. (These War-Torn Hands) The guy is SO tired and trying to do his very best for the Western Territory and he’s the King Arthur of the retelling and I’m hoping his story ends well, but…it very well may not. JUST LET HIM HAVE PEACE AND SAFETY, PLEASE. (He also belongs in the ‘surprised you’re still alive’ category btw.)

Want To Read More About You

The main cast of the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy (minus the villains)! (And Drucker from Seventh City, though I doubt that’ll happen.) Let’s just say I love Emily Hayse’s characters and leave it at that. =)


Well, those are my answers! Who are some amazing fictional characters you met this year? I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments!

Eva-Joy

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