My Results in 2023’s Eurovisionathon

For the past four weeks, I’ve been participating in the Eurovisionathon readathon! Hosted by Helen, from the Youtube channel, Helen’s Book Haven, this event encourages participants to read books associated with Eurovision’s competing countries in a month-long time-frame. This was my first year taking part in the readathon and, like other readathons, I was curious to see how well I’d perform. In the months leading up to the event, I cultivated a TBR (to be read) list of diverse literary works, in an attempt to make my reading experience as enriching as possible. My goal was to read twenty-six books in a month, as there were twenty-six countries competing in Eurovision’s Grand Final. But was I able to obtain this goal or was this goal too lofty? Let’s find out in this break-down of my Eurovisionathon results!

Eurovisionathon 2023 book collection image created by Sally Silverscreen

In this year’s Eurovision, thirty-seven countries competed in the contest. There were six countries that automatically qualified for the Grand Final. These countries were the “Big Five” (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) and Ukraine (the winner of the previous year’s song contest). Two Semi-Finals determined the rest of the countries partaking in the Grand Final alongside the six aforementioned countries, with fifteen countries competing in the first Semi-Final and sixteen countries competing in the second Semi-Final. Out of the six automatic qualifiers, I read five books, as I knew I would receive guaranteed points no matter how those countries performed.

Eurovisionathon 2023 “book collection “Big Five” and Ukraine image created by Sally Silverscreen

From the first Semi-Final, I read six books. These books represented Portugal, Croatia, Israel, Moldova, Sweden, and Finland. All six countries advanced to the Grand Final.

Eurovisionathon 2023 First Semi-Final image created by Sally Silverscreen

From the second Semi-Final, I read four books. These books represented Romania, Iceland, Australia, and Slovenia. Only Australia and Slovenia advanced to the Grand Final.

Eurovisionathon 2023 Second Semi-Final image created by Sally Silverscreen

Eurovisionathon ended on the day of Eurovision’s Grand Final. A country’s combined jury and televote score determined how many points a readathon participant received. The more books a participant read, the more points they were given. Thirteen out of the fifteen books I read represented countries that competed in the Grand Final. Three of these books represented countries that missed the top twenty; Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia. Three books I read represented Moldova, Spain, and France, countries that made the top twenty. Croatia is the only country whose book I read that placed in the top fifteen. The rest of the books I read represented countries who were given top ten placements, with Israel, Finland, and Sweden among Eurovision’s top three countries.

Eurovisionathon 2023 Grand Final image created by Sally Silverscreen

With all of that said, my total score was two thousand, seven hundred, and ninety-three points! For my first time participating in Eurovisionathon, I’d say I did a pretty good job! With 2024’s contest on the horizon, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s readathon. Thank you, Helen, for hosting this event. The next Eurovision Song Contest can’t come soon enough!

Have fun in Sweden!

Sally Silverscreen

Buzzwordathon 2023: Review of ‘The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World’ by Eric Weiner

At the beginning of this year, I announced I was participating in the Eurovisionathon readathon. Created by Helen, from the Youtube channel, Helen’s Book Haven, the goal of this readathon is to read books associated with countries competing in Eurovision within a month-long time-frame. One of the books I planned to read was The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, as one of the countries featured in the text is Moldova. When the themes for 2023’s Buzzwordathon were announced, I discovered April’s theme was ‘emotions’. This means at least one emotion related word had to be in a book’s title. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World happens to contain three emotion related words: bliss, grump, and happiest. Therefore, I was able to read this book for both readathons!

In The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Eric Weiner, the book’s author, attempts to find the happiest countries in the world, based on data and research. Each chapter to devoted to this exploration, with Eric including study results, some of a country’s history, and even insight from a few of a country’s residents. Throughout the text, Eric brings up thought-provoking ideas that made me contemplate how Eric’s findings applied outside of the book. One common finding was Eric’s discovery of more ways to describe sadness than happiness. This discovery reminded me of my best and worst movies of the year lists. When I write these lists, I find it easier to talk about movies I don’t like. That’s because I feel compelled to explain why a movie is bad. But if I come across a movie I like, that movie, in my opinion, speaks for itself. This makes me put more thought into writing about good movies.

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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World contains ten chapters. Most of these chapters are longer in page length, ranging from about fifteen to twenty pages. If I were reading this book just for Buzzwordathon, the length of the chapters wouldn’t be an issue. Since I read the book for Buzzwordathon and Eurovisionathon, the chapters made the book feel longer than necessary. Despite its flaws, though, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World is a fine and interesting book. While I don’t plan on revisiting it, the book did allow me to expand my literary horizons!

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5

Have fun during Buzzwordathon and Eurovisionathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World contains content that may be offensive to some readers, as Eric’s approach to each country discussed is honest and realistic. Reader discretion is encouraged.

Buzzwordathon 2023: Review of ‘Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries’ by Laurel Holliday

March’s theme for Buzzwordathon is ‘secret’, meaning this specific word had to be somewhere in a book’s title. Because ‘secret’ was in the title of Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries, I chose this book for the third round of Buzzwordathon. Even though Laurel Holliday’s name is listed on the book’s cover, the book is a collection of diaries written by children who lived during the Holocaust/World War II. This collection provides diverse perspectives of that particular period in history. For example, in Moshe Flinker’s diary, he expresses guilt about living in safety while many Jewish people were experiencing turmoil. Meanwhile, Colin Perry treated his diary as a historical record, going into detail about everything happening around him. Along with each perspective, the way these diaries were written was also diverse. It emphasizes the point Laurel made in the book’s introduction; that there is more than one side to history.

A collection of twenty-three diaries is included in Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries. The children’s ages range from ten to eighteen years old, with the children residing in various locations in Europe. Because of the abundance of diaries and because most of the diaries focus on events happening in a child’s life, the reader doesn’t receive many opportunities to truly get to know a diary’s author. In the book’s introduction, Laurel says “most of the diaries are long enough to comprise full-length books”. But in some author’s cases, such as for Colin Perry, his diary was published into its own book, “available from the author in a self-published paperback edition”. This fact made me wonder why the book’s longer diaries were included in this particular collection?

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Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries is a fine, interesting book that serves as a useful piece of literature when it comes to learning about World War II/the Holocaust. The collection of diverse perspectives and writing styles emphasizes how many points of view can shape history. However, this is not a book I plan on re-visiting in the future. That decision is partly due to the book’s heavier subject matter. I am glad I chose to read this book for March’s edition of Buzzwordathon. As I mentioned in this review, the children are from various locations in Europe. Some of these European countries are participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. As someone who will take part in the Eurovisionathon readathon, reading Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries was a good segue into that literary event, as Eurovision was created to restore peace in Europe after World War II.

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Because this book revolves around children’s lives during the Holocaust/World War II, some readers may be sensitive to this book. Joan Wyndham’s diary brings up subjects like drugs and sex. Reader discretion is encouraged.

The Spring Cleaning Book Tag

When I reviewed The Princess and the Pirate last year, that article became my 300th movie review! Then, earlier this year, my review of Sea Change became my 325th movie review! As March is National Reading Month and since I haven’t written a reading related tag in three years, I’m commemorating these milestones with a book tag! While searching for a tag on Booktube (the book/reading community on Youtube), I stumbled upon the Spring Cleaning Book Tag video from the channel, OwlCrate. I realized I had an answer to every question the hosts shared in the video. I also remembered how spring is on the horizon. If any of my readers are interested in participating in the Spring Cleaning Book Tag, they are welcome to write their own tag posts!

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1. The Struggle of Getting Started – A book or book series you struggle to begin because of its size

In the past, I’ve read the first book and the short story collection in The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. While I have enjoyed reading those books, I’ve struggled to continue past the first novel. This is because I haven’t found the time to read the rest of the series. At one point, I did start the second book, only to not finish it. I do want to read more of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books. I just need to make a stronger effort to continue.

2. Cleaning Out the Closet – A book or book series you want to unhaul

For last month’s Buzzwordathon, I reviewed The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon. Because of Joan’s creative decisions, I found the book disappointing. The protagonist, Christina, makes several contradictions that could make a reader frustrated. Joan prioritizing Christina’s “coming of age” story caused the novel’s suspense to be far and few between, as well as provide a lack of urgency. So, if I had the opportunity to unhaul a book, I’d select The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore.

3. Opening Windows and Letting Fresh Air In – A book that was refreshing

Since I’ve read some books in the Murder, She Wrote series, I’ll choose these stories for this prompt! What I like about the series is how the books aren’t novelizations of episodes the show’s fans have already seen. Instead, these stories are new, unique tales featuring characters and settings fans of Murder, She Wrote have come to know and adore. Creating a new story takes creativity and effort. So, the fact this series contains different stories from the show is, in my opinion, refreshing!

4. Washing Out the Sheets’ Stains – A book you wish you could re-write a certain scene in

As I mentioned in my tag post, The “Flaming Hot…5 Reasons Why” Tag, Kili is my favorite character from The Hobbit trilogy. With that said, I would re-write the conclusion of The Battle of the Five Armies, so Kili and the rest of The Company could receive a more victorious outcome. If this had happened, that victorious outcome might have been translated to The Hobbit trilogy.

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5. Throwing Out Unnecessary Knick-Knacks – A book in a series you didn’t feel was necessary

Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of an unnecessary book in a series. But when I first heard the prompt, I thought of an unnecessary subplot in a book, so I’ll talk about that instead. In Private L.A., by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, I was not a fan of Justine’s subplot, specifically the part where she develops romantic feelings for a man named Paul. Not only did I not sense chemistry between Paul and Justine, this part of the story wasn’t resolved. Personally, I wish James and Mark had solely focused on Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms.

6. Polishing the Door Knobs – A book that had a clean finish

Not every book is meant to start a series or a literary universe. Sometimes, a story only needs to be told in one book. That leads me to bring up Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton! Without spoiling the book or its film adaptation, I will say the story had a definitive ending, with everything wrapping up as nicely as possible. While I wouldn’t oppose a sequel to Adam’s story, I don’t think it’s necessary.

7. Reaching to Dust the Fan – A book that tried too hard to relay a certain message

Definitely California Angel by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. It seems like Nancy tried to capitalize on programs like Touched by an Angel and Miracle on 34th Street without presenting or attempting to present a complete understanding for what made those programs work. Also, it seems like Nancy used faith as an excuse to avoid explaining why certain events were taking place in the story.

8. The Tiring, Yet Satisfying Finish of Spring Cleaning – A book series that was tiring, yet satisfying, to get through

For this last prompt, I’ll be selecting All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr instead. Reading the novel for 2022’s Buzzwordathon, I completed this 500+ page story in less than six month’s time. Though it took me longer to read than I expected, I’m glad I finally read the book! Because I finished All the Light We Cannot See, I can now have an honest opinion about it.

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Have fun during National Reading Month!

Sally Silverscreen

Buzzwordathon 2023: Review of ‘The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore’ by Joan Lowery Nixon

February’s theme for Buzzwordathon is ‘verbs’. Because the act of taking something is a verb, I chose to read The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon. When creating a mystery story, it’s important to make the characters distinct from one another. This way, the reader will be able to keep track of who is who. How Joan achieves this goal is by describing the characters, from what they look like to their personalities. When talking about her friend, Lorna, the protagonist, Christina, says “Lorna is what they call “outgoing” and always seems to know the right things to say”. Meanwhile, Christina describes herself as someone who tends “to keep things all bottled up inside me”. Making these two characters opposites of each other is one way Joan helps the reader remember the story’s characters.

The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore book cover found on Goodreads

Throughout the book, Christina makes several contradictions that could make a reader frustrated with her. Toward the beginning of the story, while visiting Lorna at her house, Christina contemplates on what should be important in her life. Even though she turns to her friend for advice, Christina is unsure which direction will lead her to an answer. A chapter later, shortly after she’s been kidnapped, Christina asks “Will my children someday have any idea of what I’m like inside”? This quote implies she already knows what is important to her: having a family in the future. If she already found what’s important to her, why would Christina bother to question what is important in the first place? As the story continues, Christina contradicts herself again, by discovering the most important thing, to her, is herself. Didn’t she already figure out what was important back in chapter three?

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In all honesty, I can’t recommend The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore. This is because of how weak the story is. It is possible to tell a “coming of age” story while also giving the characters a mystery to solve. Instead of evenly balancing these two concepts, Joan prioritizes Christina’s “coming of age” story over the mystery itself. That decision led to a book where suspense is far and few between, as well as a novel that lacks urgency. What also doesn’t help was how the kidnappers’ identities were revealed earlier in the story. There is an overarching mystery about an unknown kidnapper in Christina’s case. But the aforementioned reveal took away some of the book’s intrigue.

Overall score: 2.1 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Because this story includes a kidnapping, some readers may be sensitive to this book. Other subjects that may be offensive to some readers are:

Some occasions where characters swear

Christina refers to her father as a “bigot” due his religious beliefs

Christina, a high school junior, develops a crush on a college sophomore

Some occasions of violence

The subject of teen pregnancy is briefly referenced

Buzzwordathon 2023: Review of ‘The Life She Was Given’ by Ellen Marie Wiseman

In my post about what readers can look forward to on my blog this year, I shared my results of 2022’s Buzzwordathon readathon. Because I had four fails and didn’t finish reading December’s book before the end of the year, I chose to participate in 2023’s Buzzwordathon in an attempt to improve my results. Though I’m publishing my review for January’s selection in February, I did complete the book in the month of January. That book is The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman, as the theme for January was ‘life and death’. This means the words ‘life’ or ‘death’ had to be featured in the title.

The Life She Was Given book cover found on Goodreads

One component that can affect my reading experience is the quality of descriptive imagery. This part of the story is what helps readers picture characters, events, and locations in their mind. Throughout The Life She Was Given, Ellen uses comparisons to elaborate on an intended point. An example is when she described the physical appearance of Merrick, an employee of The Barlow Brothers’ Circus. When one of the protagonists, Lilly, meets Merrick for the first time, “his face reminded Lilly of pictures she’d seen of the moon, with craters and dents and rocky parts”. In fact, Merrick was sometimes referred to as “the moon-faced man”. By comparing his face with the uneven surface of the moon, Ellen is not only describing Merrick in greater detail, she also writes how a child would view the world around them.

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What drew me into wanting to read The Life She Was Given was the mystery surrounding Blackwood Manor, the home inherited by the book’s other protagonist, Julia. While the mystery itself was intriguing and held my attention, it wasn’t prioritized within Julia’s chapters. Instead, more focus was given to taking care of the horses on the Manor’s farm. Readers learn more about Claude, the man in charge of the farm, and Fletcher, the veterinarian, as well as their connection to Blackwood Manor. But because the mystery was not emphasized in most of Julia’s chapters, it took Julia almost the entire book to solve the mystery.

White horse image created by Gabor Palla at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla.”

The Life She Was Given is a tough book to get through. This is not a poorly written piece of literature and I thought the book itself was just fine. The reason why The Life She Was Given is a tough book to get through is because of some of the topics included, which are heavier in nature. Some of these topics are abuse, violence, and mistreatment of animals. Ellen incorporates these subjects into her story in an honest way, not sugar-coating anything or holding back any punches. If you choose to read this book, please be aware of this fact before you start reading.

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: As I said in my review, The Life She Was Given contains heavier subjects, such as abuse, violence, and mistreatment of animals. Other content some readers may find offensive are the following:

Characters swearing at several moments in the story

Lilly being placed in some concerning situations, such as underage drinking

Dialogue reflective of the 1930s and 1950s

One chapter featuring a horse giving birth

Mentions are characters dying, including a drunk driving accident

Reference to alcoholism

I Finally Completed 2022’s Buzzwordathon!

When I recalled my participation in last year’s edition of Buzzwordathon, I said I didn’t finish reading December’s book before the end of the year. However, I promised my readers I would write a review for each book I read during this event. As a blogger of my word, I will be providing a short review of what I chose to read for December!

December

Two Little Girls in Blue book cover found on Goodreads

Title: Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

Theme: Numbers

Back in 2020, when I published my TBR Tag post, I mentioned Two Little Girls in Blue being on my TBR the longest. Two to three years later, I finally got around to reading it! While I am glad to have taken advantage of this opportunity, the book itself fell short of my expectations. At best, Two Little Girls in Blue was a fine, interesting enough mystery that held my attention. But it wasn’t the “can’t put it down” page-turner I expected. The subject of twin telepathy is a fascinating one. Yet Mary just scratched at the surface, leaving little to no room for thought-provoking commentary or opportunities to keep the conversation going. Sometimes, when the twin telepathy took place in the story, it felt like it was there for plot convenience.

According to the acknowledgements section in my copy of Two Little Girls in Blue, it seems like Mary attempted to portray the story’s case as realistically as possible. While I appreciate these efforts, each aspect of the case was delved into. This caused the story to be a bit drawn out. I like how the book’s chapters were shorter, as it allowed me to finish the book in a shorter amount of time. On the other hand, I don’t think Two Little Girls in Blue needed to contain over a hundred chapters. Though I thought this book was just fine, I would be interested in reading more of Mary’s work!

Overall score: 3.6-3.7 out of 5 stars

Have fun during 2023’s Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Two Little Girls in Blue contains subject matter that may not be suitable for some readers. Reader discretion is encouraged.

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

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10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

Buy One Buzzwordathon Fail, Get Two Free

Back in May, I wrote about my first fail in the Buzzwordathon Readathon. Because the book I selected, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, put me in a “reading slump”, I didn’t finish it within the month. When I read A Horse Called Holiday by Frances Wilbur, I was able to get back on track with my Buzzwordathon goals. So, for September, I thought I received a second chance to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Unfortunately, this book took me longer than a month to read. This also derailed my Buzzwordathon reading plans for October and November. However, I did recently complete all three books I planned to read for these aforementioned months. Unlike my other Buzzwordathon reviews, I will be writing shorter reviews for each novel.

Old-fashioned books image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/books-seamless-pattern_1539033.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

September

All the Light We Cannot See book cover found on Goodreads

Title: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Theme: Light & Dark

As I said in the introduction, it took me longer than a month to read All the Light We Cannot See. However, it felt like I spent a year reading this book. One reason is how Anthony prioritized explaining the characters, their actions/choices, and what was happening in their world over telling a story. The book’s 530 page count contributed as the other reason. But Anthony’s attention to detail allowed me, as a reader, to picture the story in my head. There was also a strong use of descriptive imagery. Even though All the Light We Cannot See was broken up into parts, each part consisted of a collection of shorter chapters. This decision gave the book a steadier pace.

Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars

October

White Bird book cover found on Goodreads

Title: White Bird by R. J. Palacio

Theme: Creatures & Animals

I found White Bird to be a solid graphic novel! There was a good balance between well-crafted story and visually appealing illustrations. The use of lighter and darker lines provided a nice distinction between the 1930s/1940s and the present day. I also like how color was used to bring focus to a character, object, or location. While White Bird contained good messages, the delivery of some of them was a bit heavy-handed. The book features heavier subjects, which doesn’t give it a high re-readability rate. However, this was the best novel out of the three I’m reviewing!

Overall score: 4.2 out of 5 stars

November

The Decoding of Lana Morris book cover found on Goodreads

Title: The Decoding of Lana Morris by Laura & Tom McNeal

Theme: Words that end in “ing”

Based on the book’s synopsis, Laura & Tom McNeal had potential to create a charming and whimsical story. Sadly, The Decoding of Lana Morris ended up being one of the worst books I’ve ever read. When creating a story with “magical realism”, it’s important to maintain a balance between the magical and realistic elements. In The Decoding of Lana Morris, though, the magical elements were so underutilized, they were far and few between in the text. This made the story feel like a generic, ‘slice-of-life’ tale. I was not a fan of the protagonist, Lana Morris. It took her longer than necessary to figure things out. She lacked foresight and critical thinking skills because of this creative flaw.

Overall score: 0 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: All the Light We Cannot See, White Bird, and The Decoding of Lana Morris contain subject matter that may not be suitable for some readers. Reader discretion is encouraged.

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2022

Tis the season for my Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List! For readers who don’t know, this is an annual tradition where I create a list of movie related things I want for Christmas. This year, there are four items on my list. Some of them are realistic, while others are wishful thinking. My Christmas wish-lists take me a whole year to create. That is because I try to put a lot of thought into each category. These categories follow the quote; “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read”. So, with that said, let’s begin this year’s Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List!

Christmas letter to Santa image created by Freepik at freepik.com Image by Freepik

Something You Want

In March of 2021, I published an editorial about why Bai Ling should join the main cast of When Calls the Heart. This post explained the reasons why Bai’s inclusion would be beneficial for the show. Unfortunately, she didn’t make any appearances in When Calls the Heart’s ninth season. As far as I know, there have been no major cast announcements either before, during, or after season ten’s production. Therefore, as of December 2022, I have no idea if Bai will become a “Heartie” in 2023. If When Calls the Heart’s creative team decides not to cast Bai in their upcoming season, then I would be interested in seeing her join the cast of Fast & Furious 10. From what I’ve heard, this film is still in the pre-production stage. I also don’t believe Bai has ever appeared in the series. Based on her projects I’ve seen, Bai has talent to offer to the Fast & Furious franchise. But like I said in my aforementioned editorial, Bai’s career is her own, which means her decision to join either the Fast & Furious or When Calls the Heart series will ultimately be up to her.

Here is a screenshot from Bai’s Asian Voices interview from 2018. Screenshot taken from the Youtube channel, AsianVoices Tv.

Something You Need to See

Last month, I wrote an editorial explaining why Das Sound Machine should represent Germany at Eurovision 2023. In this article, I discussed how Das Sound Machine could realistically compete in next year’s song contest and why that idea should work. As of mid-December, 2022, none of the participants in Germany’s national final have been announced. If Das Sound Machine did compete in Germany’s national final, that information wouldn’t be revealed until sometime in early 2023, as the national final is scheduled to take place in March. You can read my editorial at the link below if you’re interested in learning more about this idea:

Why Das Sound Machine Should Represent Germany at Eurovision 2023

Das Sound Machine image created by Gold Circle Films, Brownstone Productions, and Universal Pictures

A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear

In A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, one of the protagonists, Joy, carried a purse. This purse was a red, satchel style bag with a cross-body strap. I really like how versatile this purse is! It not only looks great during Christmas-time, it also looks great any time of year. The combination of color and style work together to create a visually appealing accessory! I would love to have this purse in my wardrobe!

Out of all the scenes in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love featuring this purse, this was the best shot of it I could find. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film

Years ago, I read To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker. From what I remember, I really liked it! It’s one of those stories I always thought would lend itself to a film adaptation, as To Catch a Pirate contains action, adventure, romance, and intrigue. In the 21st century, Disney has dominated the pirate movie genre with their Pirates of the Caribbean series. But as I said in my Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama review, this shouldn’t discourage other studios from creating their own pirate stories. If the success of Top Gun: Maverick has showed the world of film anything, it’s how audience members will show up if the movie contains a solid story. Maybe, just maybe, they would also show up if To Catch a Pirate became a movie.

To Catch a Pirate book cover found on Goodreads

What are your thoughts on my Christmas wish list? Are there any movie related things you’d like to receive for Christmas/the holiday season? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at Christmas!

Sally Silverscreen