Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Deanna Durbin's Last Hurrah: Film review of Lady on a Train (1945)

Deanna Durbin known affectionately as "Winnipeg's Sweetheart" charmed audiences from 1936 till her retirement in 1948. She was known for her beautiful singing voice and vivacious personality.

She is credited with an impressive 23 films in her short 12 year career. Why you may ask did she retire after only 12 years in film? Despite her success Deanna was never comfortable with the praise and adoration of her fans. At the young age of 27 and at the height of her career she walked away from it all. She married her third husband director Charles David (David directed Durbin in Lady On a Train) on the condition that she could one  day leave all the success and fame to live a quiet normal life in France and she did just that.  I applaud Ms. Durbin for being willing to cast off all her fame and fortune for a simple, quiet life.  Although, I do wonder if she had continued in Hollywood how far would her stardom have risen?
I"m glad that some of Ms. Durbin's films are still available for movie buffs like me to experience and enjoy.

Deanna made the classic, somewhat zany, whodunit comedy, Lady on a Train in 1945. She traded her trademark dark locks for blonde proving that blondes do have more fun!  This is one of my favorite roles of hers. Durbin plays Nikki Collins, a socialite traveling to New York via train who witnesses a murder from  her window seat on the train.  Determined to discover who was murdered she tried to involve the police, but they think she's crazy due to the fact that there's no body. She convinces a reluctant mystery writer, Wayne Morgan (David Bruce) to help her solve the murder.  Lady On a Train is a witty, fast-paced mystery that'll have you second guessing yourself until the very end.

The three numbers that Durbin sings in Lady on a Train really showcase her singing talents. When she sings she's displays a variety of emotions. Deanna's hauntingly beautiful rendition of Silent Night almost brings you to tears, but then when she's singing Gimme a Little Kiss she shows a fun and playful side. The third and final song she sings is Night and Day and this song seems perfectly suited to her vocals.  

If you're a fan of Durbin's work or simply want to watch more of her films, I urge you to watch Lady On a Train. It'll be of the most pleasant 94 minutes (movie's running time) you spend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Autumn Brides is a Delight from Beginning to End

I've seen these  seasonal 'Bride' collection novellas in the library and bookstores. There are Spring Brides, Summer Brides, Autumn Brides and Winter Brides. A friend of mine purchased the Winter Brides collection for me on my Kindle and after reading Autumn Brides, I'm excited to start that set of novellas, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's focus on Autumn Brides since it is fall and my favorite season.

Autumn Brides is a 3 in 1 collection.  I read this book in two days and probably would have read it faster if life didn't get in the way. 
Out of the 3 authors, I'm only familiar with one author, Beth K. Vogt. The other two authors I had never read before, but after reading novellas by them I'm anxious to add them to my ever-growing list of authors. Because I have to read things in chronological order I read these novellas in sequence. If you aren't as OCD as me you can certainly skip around and read them in whatever order you prefer. There were so many great laugh-out-loud moments throughout this series.  Each novella was it's own separate story, but I felt that the choice of stories flowed really well together. 

A September Brides by Kathryn Springer 

Annie Price jumps at the offer of bookstore manager at  Second Story Books in Red Leaf and sees it as an opportunity to start fresh and build roots in a small community.  Deputy Jesse Kent is suspicious of the fact that his mother handed over the keys of her beloved bookstore to whom he considers a virtual stranger. His suspicions are due to the fact that years earlier his mother 'trusted' someone and ended up having her whole life savings taken. Jesse decides to keep an eye on Miss Price and winds up volunteering to be a 'groom' in a wedding re-enactment to Annie's 'bride'. The wedding re-enactment was of a famous well-known couple who founded Red Leaf.  Will this make-believe wedding reveal Annie and Jesse's true feeling for one other?

From the moment Annie appeared on the pages of this book, I liked her. She  had a genuine sweetness about her. She quickly befriended many people in the Red Leaf community and she embraced small town life. I like that she was a keen observer of people. 

Jesse had some great hero qualities. He was always willing to lend a hand and help others in his town. I really liked how protective he was of not only his mother, but other people in the community. 

There was most definitely an undeniable chemistry between Annie and Jesse. I found myself turning pages looking forward to the next interaction between these two. 

The town of Red Leaf and it's residents was also like another character. I found myself wanting to live in a place like Red Leaf. Felt like I'd step back in time to Mayberry. This book was just so charming from beginning to end and I found myself not wanting it to end or leave the delightful town of Red Leaf. 

I look forward to reading more books by Kathryn Springer. 

A October Bride by Katie Ganshert

Emma Tate has had a crush on her brother's best friend, Jake Sawyer for years. While house sitting for her parents, she find her dad's bucket list. One item on that list catches her attention.  
Walk Emma Down the Aisle. 
Two years ago, Emma's dad was diagnosed with cancer.  Emma is determined to help her dad fulfill all his items on his 'bucket list' even if it means getting married.  Hard to do since she broke up with her fiance two years ago and isn't dating.  Enter her brother's best friend Jake. Jake proposes that he be her 'groom' for the fake wedding. Will this fake wedding between Emma and Jake reveal their true feelings for one another?

One of the traits that I love about Emma was how she loved her family. Her family was extremely important to her so much so that she was willing to go through a crazy scheme like a phony wedding. Her heart and motives were in the right place.  

Jake Swayer....well what's not to like about him? He's a hard working, handsome, quiet guy. The chemistry between him and Emma slowly grows given the fact that he's known Emma practically his whole life and is a friend of the family.

 I feel like the author handled the transition of Jake and Emma's relationship well. It progressed naturally and easily and eventually their feelings for each other deepened beyond friendship. 

Another couple of characters I feel deserve mentioning are Emma's parents.  I loved how godly, wise, and courageous her dad was. Even though he was battling cancer, he lived each day to the fullest. There were a few honest and heart-felt conversations he has with Emma and I shed a few tears. I think because I can see my own dad saying something similar to me and because I've lost loved ones to cancer. 

I'm really excited to discover more books by Katie Ganshert. Her October Bride novella left me wanting to read more.

A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt was the only author I was familiar with when I read this series of novellas. A few years ago I read Catch a Falling Star and really enjoyed it. I like that some of Ms Vogt's heroines are a little bit older. Now that I'm past my twenties it's nice to read about older heroines. 

November Bride finds 30 year old personal culinary chef Sadie McAllister  fed up with 'text only' dates and is tired of being dumped via text.
Enter best friend Erik Davis. The only man who can put down his phone and have a face-to face conversation with her.   Sadie and Erik have been best friends since they were 13. Once Erik realizes he's falling in love with his best friend Sadie can he convince her that his typically ''date-for-fun' attitude towards relationships is changing into a more serious 'till death do us part' kind of relationship?  

I really liked Sadie and Erik as a couple. They are both accepting of one another's flaws and little quirks. I cracked up that Erik hums Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen when he's upset because it calms his down. I found it amusing that Sadie was such a neat freak and every time she and Erik hung out he'd always rearrange something in her house and it would drive her a little nuts. 

Ms. Vogt stuck a good balance with the right mix of life long friends chemistry that blossomed into a growing romance between these two friends. 

If I had to pick which novella I liked the best I'm not sure I could do it. I liked certain elements of each novella.  
Check out Autumn Brides. The writing is top notch and it's great escapism fiction.