Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie Review: Cinderella (2015 film)

by M. J. Joachim
I had a wonderful time exploring the famous fairy tale, given a new twist and perspective when watching this film recently. For the most part, the story remains the same, however there were some subtle changes taken which made the movie quite entertaining and thoughtful, in my opinion. In a word or two, the film was modernized just enough to make it come to life in today’s times. The director, Kenneth Branagh, did a wonderful job, and the costume design by Sandy Powell was delightful. I enjoyed the new script most of all, but I also liked the way the mice and other critters came to life. However, I missed Bruno.

It must be challenging taking such a time honored classic as Cinderella and turning it into something new and exciting for future generations. However, this particular film mastered the art beautifully. As much as the characters remained the same, their differences were truly remarkable, making it easy to identify with them in today’s times, while still being true to the original story. Cinderella (2015 film) gets a big thumbs up from me!

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today. Please let me know your thoughts about anything Cinderella related in the comments.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Old, Old Fairy Tales: “Cinderella,” Anne Anderson (1874 - 1930), PD-US

Poetry Analysis: Sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

by M. J. Joachim

First time he kiss’d me, he but only kiss’d
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write; 
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its “Oh, list,”
When angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second pass’d in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half miss’d
Half falling on the hair. Oh, beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love’s own crown, 
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed, 
I have been proud, and said, “My love, my own!”


Courtship, anticipation, flirtation, devotion and love transcend the Sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Three kisses, each more intense than the last capture the woman’s heart.

This is poem of society, culture and proper etiquette. Ladies are treated delicately and with the utmost respect. Gentlemen pursue a woman’s countenance. Hers is to respond with favor and perhaps a bit of gratitude, or not.

In this poem, the lady is swept away into the world of love, breathless and dreamy, waiting patiently for love to be fulfilled.

The lady no longer wears amethyst jewels on the hand that was kiss’d. Symbolically, I think, of royalty, because of the color purple and its gem. The second kiss was its own reward, an anointing of love. Indeed, she was chosen and chooses this developing bond. The third kiss is perfection, again a royal hue, and it is this amazing kiss that fully steals her heart, allowing her to declare her love in return.

Thank you so much for visiting Writing Tips today. Please share your thoughts about my analysis, your own analogy or anything else you’d like to say in the comments.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Tacuina sanitation (XIV century), PD-US

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movie Review: Divergent

by M. J. Joachim

Truly, I had to separate the book from the movie for this one. Without doing that, I’m afraid the comparisons might have driven me crazy. As with all books turned into movies, the book was much better, probably because my own visualization and imagination made it so.

Taken strictly as a movie, Divergent was good. I can understand why they made some of the changes from the book, which ultimately made the movie better in some places. That said, I’m not sure why they omitted some of the details in the book that I found to be real page turners.

However, I get it, and Divergent the movie stands alone. Anyone who hasn’t read the book can see the movie and not feel like they entered in the middle of some conversation where they can’t quite figure out what’s going on. The screenplay is well written and the book was comfortably adapted to the big screen.

I’m glad the movie didn’t drag on and on. Writers kept it fast paced, with lively action scenes to keep viewers interested. They didn’t try to copy the book word for word, scene for scene, which is definitely a plus. Looking back on it, I don’t know how they would have done so anyway, so I’m glad they took creative license this way.

Now that I’ve read the book and seen the movie, I like the book better. If I had just read the book or seen the movie, there’d be no cause to complain. If you’re wondering what all the excitement is about, check out one or both and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Just remember, the movie is purposely different from the book, so it’s best to avoid comparing the two.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today. I’d love to read your thoughts on Divergent, either the movie, book or both in the comments.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Willis Tower, enwiki, No rights claimed or reserved

Book Review: Mama Cried by Talia Haven

by M. J. Joachim

Such sensitive and emotional subject matter could not be better represented than in the short story Mama Cried by, Talia Haven. I cried too; I also felt the pangs of being torn and empathizing with the little girl and Mama in this story. Stories like this are heartfelt, as the dig into the depths of one’s soul.

People often search for answers and truth, especially when so little of life makes sense. We also seek forgiveness, justice and peace. Mama Cried is a journey exploring all of these things, when life is hard, doesn’t provide answers and can’t make sense. Mama Cried ultimately satisfies, though not the way one might expect.

It’s a good story, one I don’t want to spoil with too many details in this review. When you read it, you’ll understand. While I wouldn’t recommend this story for very young or even young children, I do believe older kids will enjoy it, as well as adults.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ebooks vs. Blog Posts - Choosing the Best Publishing Platform

by M. J. Joachim

Lots of Crochet Stitches hit one million page views earlier this month, or maybe in the last few days of February. I was so busy with two kids moving in and out of here, that everything sort of blurred together, and one day I looked only to find that there were over a million page views on my blog. Late last year I was writing teasers on this blog about the new book I was writing, the one I hoped to publish before the end of last year.

It’s a crochet tutorial book, thus no characters, except now that Lots of Crochet Stitches has so many page views, I’m a little bit torn. I’d plan to make several theme oriented crochet books for my followers. Now, with the first one still unfinished, I’m more inclined to put my original patterns on my blog, skip the book intro, background, stitch guide, cover etc., most of which I haven’t even written yet. I do have several original patterns that have been tested, so my inclination is to thank my viewers by putting each of these on my blog instead.

When is a book not really a book, but multiple blog posts that will be just as pleasing, if not more so to one’s audience? That’s the big question I’m asking myself, and at this junction I’m leaning toward putting it out there, knowing I have some amazing blog followers who truly enjoy and appreciate my posts. It’s true, they’d probably enjoy my crochet books too, but I’m not sure I see the point of venturing into something new with my crochet work anymore. It’s working very well, so I’m not sure it’s necessary to mess with a good thing.

Any thoughts on this? Have you ever started writing a book you turned into blog posts? Have you ever had second thoughts and weighed the pros and cons of changing direction midstream? How did it turn out for you? Was it worth it when all was said and done, or do you have regrets about your decision?

I’m so glad you stopped by to visit Writing Tips today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo Credit: GNU Free Documentation License; crochet in round shape, flora

Book Review: Alphabet Anatomy Series by Linda Ann Jones

by M. J. Joachim

This series was a little bit lost on me. Rather than write three less than stellar reviews, I’m just going to write one explaining some of the things that didn’t quite work for me in this series, partly because I taught early childhood education for many, many years, and partly because with so many alphabet books to choose from, if I were browsing in a store or online, these wouldn’t have made it into my basket.

I get the concept and I applaud any group of people working to teach young children, however they decide to do it. Unfortunately, there was a lack of cohesiveness in many of the rhymes for me. Some of the language was way too advanced for any child trying to learn the alphabet and even though the books were bright, cheery and beautifully illustrated, the story itself didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. In some instances, the pictures of the letters were puzzling as well.

Creativity and imagination are positive and wonderful things. So is simplicity, especially when the goal is to teach young children about the alphabet. This series overreached in my opinion, and the result is confusion. Alphabet books intending to teach young children the alphabet should make a point to have all the letters look like they are supposed to. Rhymes about the alphabet should make sense, not leave adults scratching their heads wondering how the author came up with them. The whole thing simply didn’t seem that well planned or thought out. Consequently, it won’t get a thumbs up from me.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Alphabet, PD-US

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

by M. J. Joachim

We may be late to the party, but my daughters and I are hooked now. Divergent is positively hard to put down and quite the page turner indeed! Psychologically and philosophically speaking, my thoughts went to some dark places, wondering if things like this could really happen several decades from now. The world as we know it divided and conquered, while politics remain status quo.

Okay, so I’m reaching a little. But seriously, this book made me think and brought out my very outside the box creative side when doing so. We see things like this on a smaller scale all the time. Organization at its best, only in Divergent, people are the organizers, not the organized, and they did it to themselves willingly and without protest.

Ah the mind games it plays on individuals in the story! Prejudice didn’t disappear; it became worse in many instances because power and control are such necessary survival skills.

Oh, and the story has the most vile villain, the strangest heroes - if you can still call them that after reading the last chapter. The ending was full, ripe and complete, yet still lending toward curiosity for the next book in the series. We already own it and yes, it’s on the must read list for my daughters and me.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: CTA Loop Junction, GNU Free Documentation License