Pete’s Dragon

petes dragon

This summer we had the good fortune to see a number of movies on the big screen. A surprising favorite was Pete’s Dragon. I have to admit that I did not have great expectations of this movie. I did not much like the original. But I was impressed.

New Story Line

Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace Meacham) and Robert Redford (Mr. Meacham) are enchanting as father and daughter who help Pete, an orphan boy, save Elliot, a dragon, from capture and captivity. Hunters pursue Elliot, in hopes of financial gain and Pete is discovered and taken in by the Meachams. As Pete struggles to choose between his desire for a loving family and his loyalty and love for Elliot, Elliot also realizes that he is now endangering Pete. Secure in the knowledge that Pete will have a good home with the Meachams, Elliot leaves his forest to find a safe place for himself.

The story line differs significantly from the 1977 original. Elliot, as the dragon, is rather clunky, considering today’s CGI capabilities, but he is cute and endearing and believable as a cuddly friend to a young boy. Pete’s Dragon is an all-around uplifting, feel-good movie, perfect for all ages. And don’t worry, Pete and Elliot find each other again, in the end.

Pete’s Dragon is available from Amazon.com and many other retailers.

If you click on the Amazon link to buy the movie, I might get a few pennies. Otherwise, I did not get compensated for this review. So thanks.

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Tropical Palms RV Campground, Kissimmee, Florida

rv campground, kissimmee, florida

We found Tropical Palms RV Campground, Kissimmee, Florida through our Passport America membership. We just needed a spot for 2 nights, while we took in nearby Universal Studios, but once there, we wished we could have stayed for more.

tiny homes tropical palms fl

The RV spaces are clean and easy-in-easy-out. Mostly pull through. There is also a large section of tiny homes for rent. Several parks dot the complex, including a dog park, and there is a full-size pool, a kiddie pool, and a Jacuzzi. The laundry area is ample and the machines well maintained. The bathrooms are also very clean, with nice showers.

yak in pool, tropical palms, fl

We found dealing with the office personnel very pleasant. A staff member escorted us to our site, in a golf cart. We had plenty of 4G and were too busy during our 2 days there to really need the free wifi, so I can’t tell you how good it is. But in most cases that depends on how close you are to the signal, and how many people are on it.

tropical palms, fl dive in movie

Sitting outside under our awning was most pleasant, as the bugs were not bad. The swimming pool was convenient, right next to the laundry room, so we enjoyed several hours of splashing and swimming. Sadly, we were not there long enough to partake of the Toucan Café, the Friday night dive-in movie, or the many other activities taking place at the resort.

toucan cafe snack stand

We don’t normally care for RV parks and were happy to leave when the space next to us filled up. Despite this, Tropical Palms definitely gets 2 thumbs up. We will definitely stay there again. Especially in the off-season (if there is such a thing in Florida) when the crowds are gone.

For more info, check out the Tropical Palms website.

Tropical Palms RV Campground and Resort

2650 Holiday Trail, Kissimmee, FL 34746

  877-570-2267

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Beyond Dead, by Jordaina Sydney Robinson

Beyond Dead: A Bridget Sway Novel (A Paranormal Ghost Cozy Mystery Series) by [Robinson, Jordaina Sydney]

Bridget Sway is dead. But she’s finding out the afterlife is nothing like she expected. First, she finds out she has to start a new job, and then, she finds a dead dead guy in her locker. And then she gets to go find out what the new rules for her new life, or – death, are.

As a result, Bridget quickly decides to team up with dead private eye Sabrina to clear her name and find out who is killing these dead guys. Furthermore, she gets into all kinds of trouble with her parole officer, Oz, and doesn’t know if her new dead friends Pete and Charlie are friends or the murderers – out to get her next.

This story sounded so implausible, that I had to take a peek. I could not stop reading. The twists on the afterlife are terribly clever. I can’t wait to see how they carry on in the next book. I love a good cozy and this series promises to be unique and delightful. Thank you, Jordaina!

Beyond Dead, by Jordaina Sydney Robinson is available at Amazon.com, currently $.99.

No compensation was received for this review. I did receive a review copy from the author.

 

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Ben Hur

Ben-Hur riding on a chariot with the slogan "Brother Against Brother. Slave Against Empire."

Yup. Have to. Because I loved this movie and I have to shout it out. First of all, don’t listen to the negative reviews. Who knows what the critics are thinking? Maybe they’re as tired of remakes as I am. But this is more a new interpretation of the novel. The novel? Yeah, I didn’t know…

With Roma Downey and Mark Burnett as producers, you can pretty well expect an uplifting message. A few of the actors are celebrities here in the States, but it was refreshing to see so many fresh faces in the cast.

In case you are unfamiliar, Ben Hur is the story of a Jewish prince, at the time of Christ. Judah Ben-Hur’s family adopts a Roman orphan, Mesalla. They grow up as brothers and best friends. Due to his orphan past, Mesalla becomes increasingly restless, as he ponders his place in the world. His love for Judah’s sister is frowned upon by their mother, so he eventually sets out to join the Roman legion and pursue his fortune.

When Mesalla returns, he asks for Judah’s help in keeping the peace for the arrival of the new Roman governor. Instead, Judah protects a Jewish assassin, by taking the blame for an attempt on the life of the governor. An angry Mesalla betrays Judah to a long, slow death as a galley slave.

There is plenty of action. Judah’s escape from the galleys and near drowning; Mesalla’s battle exploits; the chariot race.

The chariot race. Possibly the highlight of the entire film. Even though you know how it turns out, getting there keeps you on the edge of your seat. The horses are fantastic and every precaution was taken to ensure their safety during filming. The actors insisted on performing nearly all the race scenes themselves, instead of letting the stuntmen have all the fun. The Roman Circus was a place of blood and violence, and the chariot race delivered. Even without fake blood spurting on the screen, there was plenty of gory death as charioteers were systematically ejected and trampled.

In the end, hatred and revenge give way to forgiveness and reconciliation, largely due to chance meetings with Jesus. As it should be.

Go see it today and support good, clean, uplifting filmmaking!

Currently in theaters.

 

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A Holy Year in Rome – The Ultimate Guide Book

A Holy Year in Rome

What better way to see Rome than with someone who’s loved living and working there for over 30 years? A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis makes me want to visit Rome again. Gypsies accosted us right inside the church last time I was there. In addition there were death defying encounters with traffic. Not to mention the endless wanderings thru tourist traps. Joan makes Rome come alive with fascinating people and colorful history. She also provides insider travel tips and advice.

A Holy Year in Rome, is subtitled The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy. It begins with a description of the book’s meaning of pilgrimage and shrines. Next comes a glossary of terms. Such Catholic ideas as jubilee, basilica, and cathedral can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, the author explains the concept of holy doors in simple language.

Ms. Lewis gives an interesting history of jubilee years from the first one in 1300, through the current one. She explains why Pope Francis called an extraordinary jubilee. She also points out the significance of the dates of opening and closing this jubilee.

A full chapter is taken up by a self-tour guide book to the 7 pilgrimage basilicas. It features the highlights of each, in an orderly fashion, from entering to exit.

Another chapter contains a history and detailed description of the catacombs and their frescoes, paintings and stuccoes.

One chapter offers a self-guided tour of the vatican city-state.

Yet another is devoted to a history and guide to the pope’s second home, Castlegandalfo.

The book concludes with 3 chapters of Rome-specific travel advice. Joan gives her readers insider tips on navigating and getting the most out of their Rome visit. She also recommends books and links for further reading.

I thank Sophia Institute for providing me with a review copy of A Holy Year in Rome. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis

(c) 2015 Published by Sophia Institute Press

248 pages

Available from http://www.sophiainstitute.com

$19.95 paperback/$9.95 ebook

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