Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anastasia (1956)

After the royal family is killed during the Russian revolution, no one can access the family's $10 million in a British bank. However, an exiled general sets out to change that by using a woman who greatly resembles the royal daughter, Anastasia, to claim that the heir to the fortune is still alive and access the money. The woman suffers from mental illness, and is reluctant to go along with the plan, but eventually agrees to. Together, they set out to convince the world, and more importantly, the real Anastasia’s aunt, that the woman is the real Anastasia, so they can claim the millions of dollars for themselves.

The story and characters in Anastasia are well done, though it seemed like the film could have benefited from being a bit longer, to give it more time to focus on certain aspects of the story and characters. The theme of being true to yourself rather than doing whatever it takes to chase money was nothing new but fairly effective. The acting is, as one would expect, quite good. In the end, this is a competently made but not particularly memorable historical drama.

Content is generally mild: Intensity, such as thoughts of suicide and references to mental illness and murder. A middle-aged woman’s lustful ways are condemned, but more due to her age than the immorality itself. There is a bit of kissing. The main characters are almost all shady in some way, and it is not evident at the end if the two protagonists have learned better in general, though they do learn the error of some of their ways.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: Firmament: Radialloy by J. Grace Pennington

A young nurse lives with her father, a doctor, on a starship that is exploring space, but her happy and peaceful life is shaken when her father starts acting strange and eventually appears to insane. As she tries to figure out what’s wrong, criminals take over the ship in pursuit of a treasure that is hidden aboard. She finds herself forced to face a secret from her past that could tear apart much of what she believes in. After discovering that the secret is connected to the criminals, she must race against time to cure her father and help save the starship.

Firmament: Radialloy by J. Grace Pennington is a good, clean, old-fashioned science fiction story. The fast-paced plot makes one think of an episode of Star Trek, and like that classic show, it has strong characterizations and is well-written, weaving together an effective story and theme. This is the first book in an expected eighteen book series, and if this book is any indication, it is a series that will be worth reading all the way to the end. Firmament: Radialloy is aimed at teens and adults, and contains some intensity and violence, but is also suitable for some older children.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Monday, September 17, 2012

Animal Tips for Writers: What Is A Rodent?

After an unplanned short break from writing animal tips, I hope to write them more frequently. Today we'll look at rodents, which seem to come up often in certain types of stories, books, and movies.

When writing about creepy little animals, some authors might wonder if they can describe such animals as rodents. But can all creepy little animals be described as rodents? The answer is: No. Most “creepy” little animals are not rodents, and not all rodents are little. Some rodents are even widely thought of as cute.

Rodents are mammals of the order Rodentia. Rats, mice, squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, and even bigger animals like beavers and the 200 pound capybara are rodents. Snakes, toads, cockroaches, flies, and other such frequently reviled animals that some authors might want to lump together with rats are not rodents, because they are not mammals nor members of the order Rodentia.

Have you ever written about rodents, or do you plan to? Have you ever had a memorable encounter with a rodent?

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Angelic Dedication

Few people are fortunate enough to have a book dedicated to them. Earlier this week, I learned that I was one of those fortunate few. Author Aubrey Hansen chose two people to dedicate her new novel, Peter’s Angel, to. I was one of the two. Here is my half of the dedication:

To Jonathan
for listening
to every fear
every pain
every hope
and always reminding me
that God
has a plan
for everything
To you is the character of Nathan warmly dedicated.

Aubrey’s kind and beautiful dedication means a lot to me, and I look forward to owning the special book that contains it. I read and enjoyed two earlier drafts of the novel, but haven’t yet had the chance to read the final draft, which has had some big changes since I last read it.

Soon my copy of the book will arrive, and now you can own Peter’s Angel, too. Aubrey has been working on this novel for years, calling it her masterpiece, and it is finally finished and was released today.

Here is what Peter’s Angel is about:

In the wake of a lost War for Independence, Peter Jameson, a young colonel, struggles to protect his tiny patriot state of Rhode Island from the oppression of New Britain, the wealthy British duchy. When New Britain invades and attempts to seize Rhode Island’s newly-discovered mine, Peter finds himself leading his small cavalry against the massive British army. But war becomes the least of his worries when his own men kidnap him and hold him for ransom. Facing certain death, Peter is freed by a mysterious boy who vanishes without leaving his name. Indebted, Peter determines to find his "angel" and reward him. But his rescuer has a secret of his own—he is the exiled rightful heir of New Britain, and he will do anything to keep from being found.

I hope you will join me in reading Peter’s Angel. It is available in paperback and as an e-book.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Movie Review: Act of Valor

After a Muslim terrorist blows up a school in the Philippines, he aims for a bigger target: America. He enlists the help of a childhood friend who is now a smuggler, and begins putting his plans in place. Meanwhile, a team of Navy SEALS must plunge into a Costa Rican jungle to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative. Once that dangerous and explosive mission is completed, they learn enough about the terrorist’s plans to begin hunting him down and working to stop his planned attacks on America.

Film critic Christian Toto had this to say regarding one of the most notable things about Act of Valor: After years of seeing films treating American soldiers as mercenaries, thugs or much, much worse, we witness another side of the modern warrior. These SEALs are smart, self-effacing and brave beyond measure. Their personal sacrifices alone make them worthy of our respect and admiration. The film stands out in a sea of morally conflicted war movies where the enemy is given the benefit of the doubt, not the soldiers.

The fair view of the U.S. military is not the only thing that makes this film stand out. Some of the action sequences are brilliantly executed. The film goes for realism rather than a lot of special effects, and this authentic feel helps the film. Most of the actors are active duty Navy SEALS, so their unpolished but fully competent acting further adds to the authentic feel. However, the story and characterizations are for the most part just adequate, and this holds the film back a bit. Overall, Act of Valor is a solid action film that will leave you thinking about heroism and the threats that America and the world faces.

Despite the R-rating, the violence in this film was generally on the level of a PG-13 movie. It was slightly more bloody in some scenes, such as the occasional headshot, but the filmmakers wisely chose not to focus on the violence. The foul language, consisting of around ten “f” words, about twice that of other swear words, and two blasphemies, was also on the mild side for the rating--which is one of the reasons why I rarely watch R-rated movies. The rest of the content is truly mild: A bit of immodesty and a villain referencing past lovers. The restraint of this film regarding content is unusual for Hollywood, though I wish they had shown a bit more restraint with the swearing.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


My blog is nearing its two year anniversary, and already it has 12,000 views. Thank you to everyone who reads my blog! I enjoy seeing your comments.

I have some special things planned for the two year anniversary, which I will reveal later. For now, y’all might be interested in seeing what are currently the most popular posts.

The top five most popular posts are:

#5 Imagine All the Vampires...

People seem to like this John Lennon and Twilight parody.

#4 Animal Tips for Writers: Coral Snakes

I’m surprised that people are curious enough about coral snakes to make this my #4 most popular post, but I’m glad that people are interested in animals.

#3 Four Seasons (Illustrated by BushMaid)

This post has long been one of the most popular.

#2 Choosing Godly Entertainment

I got a lot of good responses from people about this article.

#1 Honey Badger Cares

This article is so popular that it has almost twice as many views as the second most viewed post. I don’t know if it has made a dent in the dark side of the honey badger trend, but at least it has put the message out there.

As a bonus, my most popular post this month is:

Childish Ways

Did any of the most popular posts surprise you? What is your favorite post? Do you have any suggestions for posts I could write?

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Monday, September 3, 2012


This picture seems like it could inspire a story. It has a lot of interesting elements.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner