It took me long enough to read this under 200 page book about Nathan Bedford Forrest. General Forrest has always been one of my heroes and so when I saw the title of this book, Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption, I snatched it up at the Suwanee Raid reenactment
without hardly even thinking about it. Upon getting it home and removing the plastic, I found that the author, Shane Kastler, is an ordained Southern Baptist as well as an SCV member.

This book is decidedly Christian. Not only does Mr. Kastler quote scripture, but he continually draws one's attention back to the goodness and graciousness of the Lord--in his blessing of Bedford finacially before the war, in preserving his life during the war, and drawing him to Himself as he got continually feebler and more ill.
    There was a mildness in his manner, a softness of expression, and a gentleness in his words that appeared to me strange and unnatural. At first I thought his bad health had brought about this change, but then I remembered that when sick or wounded he was the most restless and impatient man I ever saw. Soon I told him that there was something about him that I couldn't understand, that he didn't appear to me to be the same man I used to know so well. He was silent for a moment, then seemed to divine my trouble, and, halting suddenly, he took hold of the lapel of my coat and turned me squarely in front of him, and raising his right hand with that long index finger (his emphasizer) extended, he said, "Major, I am not the man you were with so long and knew so well. I hope I am a better man. I've joined the Church and am trying to live a Christian life...Mary has prayed for me night and day for many years, and I feel now that through her prayers my life has been spared, and to them am I indebted for passing safely through so many dangers." 
        ~~Major Charles Anderson
Mr. Kastler paints a vivid picture of the man. I understand Bedford Forrest better than ever now. He does not try to hide his faults (such as his filthy bad temper) nor does he attempt to make more of them than necessary (such as the Fort Pillow massacre). He attempts to show the reader both the sins and the virtues of the man.

What is so very intersting about General Forrest is that he knew from his youth the tenets of Christianity. He believed them, but did not necessarily apply them to himself. He encouraged them in others--going so far to make sure his son, who enlisted with in at the beginning of the War Between the States, had other godly young men to associate with.

Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption is not an extremely in-depth book. It is an easy read and if I hadn't been distracted by other things, I probably could have finished it in practically one-sitting. I enjoyed it very much and would highly recommend it. Looking at it from a purely objective standpoint (whatever a 'purely objective standpoint' is!), I would be inclined to say that a unbeliever might find it somewhat preachy as Mr. Kastler takes the time to use examples from scripture to prove whatever point he is after.

You could give this to your kids to read without worrying about the content (unless you are worried that they will start saying 'damn'--that is in at least one quote). The writing-style is simple and engaging. There is much about Forrest that we could emulate, but like with any man, there is much we can learn from his faults. 

5-stars

        Racheal

 
 
Sons of Georgia is a film by Children of Light Productions that tells the story of one family during the War Between the States.  The message, as spelled out by 'Lester' to his brother 'Sam' is very timely.  Freedom is not free; sacrifice is necessary to preserve our principles.

Told from the perspective of the youngest son as written to his grandson, it really is the story of the third son overcoming his fear and uncertainty. It is the coming of age story of Sam Blanding during the days of Sherman's "March to the Sea".
The Worldview: This film was made by Reformed Christian young people. The worldview can be summed up by saying: God is sovereign.

The Production Values: I will be quite honest, the production values are not industry standard, but I have seen worse in Independent Christain films. There were a few scenes where they used visual effects...for instance, one character get's his leg slashed with a saber. The editor created a 'blood spatter', which in my opinion was unrealistic looking. I wouldn't have noticed if he had not put it in there. (I would have shot that scene a tad different--it could have been more effective.)

Overall the camera work was pretty good (better than anything I could so--particularly at the stage of the game I am at! )

The music is good. Some of it was composed by Gabriel Hudelson. I recognized it partly because I'd heard it before--but I think I would have anyway. Gabriel's music is rather distinctive. I really like it.

Costumes: Some were better than others, but if you didn't know any better  you wouldn't notice that this lad and that had on modern button up shirts. They could have taken better care with the ladies hair. Women always parted their hair down the middle--several girls have it parted on the side. (Just a minor quibble--but I thought I would mention it.)

The Acting: Much better than 'Sybil Ludington'. There were a few times when the actors could have been more passionate. I think they would have been if they hadn't been concentrating on their Georgia accents...it is my opinion that if you can't hold an accent you are better off not attempting it at all. To me, it is much more distracting (and thereby detracting from the movie) to listen to bad/in and out accents then it is if the actors don't try.  On a more positive note--the tears/crying were pretty convincing. Overall, the acting was great for an independent film. My personal opinion is that if young Samuel Saffa keeps acting, he could make a very fine actor.  He's pretty good.
I won my copy of Sons of Georgia in a giveaway hosted by A Window Into My World (thank-you, Allison!!)  I was so very excited to get it and I wasn't disappointed with it, even with the one or two places where it drug just a bit. Overall the story was pretty good, the acting was good, the message was good. I highly recommend this film for two reasons: 1. It is wholesome material for families to view; 2. We have to support our young independent filmmakers. Even though their films may not be industry standard, how can we expect them to make more--and reach industry standards-- without our support?

Rating: A 5 for worldview; a 4 for independent films. Keep it up guys!

        Racheal

 
 
Author: Paul I. Wellman

Setting: 1840's Texas

Plot: Paul Regret, New Orleans' gambler, engages in a duel with the only son of influential Judge Beaubein. Regret shoots the young man, but does not kill him. Regardless, he has to flee New Orleans with a price on his head. Going to Texas, he is given a choice by Sam Houston himself, of either being extradited to Louisiana or joining the Texas Rangers. Regret cho0ses to join the Rangers, not because he wants to be a Texas Ranger, but because he preferred that to hanging. He learns the ropes of being a Ranger...witnesses the aftermath of a Comanche raid [and from reading The Captured by Scott Zesch (I never finished it), I knew exactly what the author delicately alluded to]...and with his shooting skills earns respect, if not acceptance among the Rangers.

When Regret is commissioned with Tom Gatling (his rather hostile partner) and Captain Blake Henrion to discover the hideout of the Comancheros, the story really takes off. I won't let on what happens, only that they get captured.

Paul Regret's love interest is woven throughout the book and ends up being important to the story.

        ********************************************************************

There was a movie made from the book....
The Duke is not Paul Regret--rather he's the Tom Gatling character--with a different name. If you ask my opinion, the book is better. The Comancheros, the movie is actually quite different than the book. The opening scene is the same and then one scene when Regret is among the Comancheros is the same. That's about it.

In the movie, Paul Regret meets his love interest on a boat (in the book he's known her for several years). He is arrested on the boat by the Duke (or Jake Cutter). Sam Houston is not in the movie. Anyway, Regret gets hauled around by Cutter--Regret knocks Cutter on the head and runs away. He get's re-caught and ends up being drug into the Comanchero trip (no Capt. Henrion in this version). The end is not nearly as powerful.

That was very uncohearant...but I just wanted to say that the book was the better of the two stories. Of course, being a Duke fan--the Comancheros isn't bad :) (Duke is himself you know...I like the Paul Regret of the book better--he's not quite such a prig.)

Book: 5 star
Movie: 3 star

        Racheal

 
 
I have wanted to watch this movie for a while, since I re-discovered it in the DVD cabinet this winter. I'm going to say right off the bat, I enjoyed it. I believe I giggled more than I was on the edge of my seat. The Princess Bride has plenty of Drama, Romance (of course! it's a fairy tale), Danger, and Humor. It is somewhat hokey in someplaces, but for just having a good laugh...who cares!

The Plot: The little boy is sick: his grandpa comes and reads him the story of The Princess Bride. Naturally, the boy is rather resistant to a fairy tale to start with--but through the movie, he gets drawn into the story. (I found this a neat, even hiliarious twist.)

Buttercup is a commoner; Wesley is a commoner. They fall in love. (Suprise!) He goes off to seek his forture and "dies". Five years pass and Buttercup ends up being engaged to the Prince of the land. (She doesn't love him, of course--her heart still belongs to Wesley; even though she believes him dead.) The day of the engagement, she gets kidnapped. The kidnappers are followed by a man in black...between this point and the 'happily ever-after' there is danger, humor, suprises, trechary, and, well, romance. I don't want to give too much away, but things include poison,  valient sword fights (my favorite!), fire swamps, etc. The identity of the villian is suprising and unexpected.

Pros and Cons on the story: Wesley is the hero...he is the faithful man who leads. loves, and protects. Buttercup is not a feminist. (I liked that part.)   Niether character is portrayed as perfect. There is character growth (even if just tiny.) There is no magic. Even when Wesley is 'dead' and raised up he wasn't really dead--just mostly dead. (That whole part was funny as he 'comes back to life'--the actor was great!) I'm not quite sure if the filmmaker was mocking the church by making the bishop (or whatever he was) lisp something awful or not...I will say though that the lisp was unexpected and somewhat startling at first. (Rather sounds like Elmer Fudd--all 'r's are 'w's...) There was one word which was 'bad'--I don't know if it was 'Jeeze' or "Jesus" (okay, so the former is just slang for the latter and ought not be used at all either); it was only used once and by the little boy when he got agitated over what was going to happen next. That was the only profanity. There were NO CRASS JOKES. (Maybe that's because the film was made in 1987?) Buttercup's dresses were modest--no cleavage (you wouldn't get that today! They'd be taking every chance to show off her chest!) Certain characters were 'bad-guys' who end up being 'good-guys'--not exactly sure how to rate that, but the movie wouldn't have worked without them. There was enough kissing, but the focus was more on the story than the smooching. One thing I did notice that was somewhat odd--you never see Buttercup's parents; so I don't know if she was supposed to be an orphan or whether they would have just been extraneous characters that weren't really necessary...(i.e. character who would have been in one sence/had to been paid by the producers.)
 
The Art: The 'special effects' (F/X) work was very, very good for the time. I thought it looked more 'real' than some more modern, digital F/X or CGI work (take Star Wars [episodes 1-3] for instance--that looks fake.) The costumes were well done; except the crowns looked kind of hokey ;) The acting is professional...afterall, it takes a professional to act as limber as Wesley...(it makes me snicker to think of the sence I'm referencing.) The fencing was well done (as far as my limited knowledge could tell.) Some ot the make-up work was rather obvious, but as it's a fairy-tale it wasn't ridiculous.

Overall rating: For good, clean fun; 5-star.  

        Racheal