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"Does it Get Any Better Than Cake?"

Have you ever watched a movie that made you hug a pillow to your chest the entire viewing time because you can't even handle all the emotions you're feeling?  Have you ever watched a movie that made you squeal, cry, and talk to the characters on the screen, hoping your desperate plea for their life will save them?

... I'm not the only one, right?!

Well, I just recently watched a WWI drama that has skyrocketed to the top of my all time favorite historical films. I'm so happy that I came across a post by Naomi Bennet over at Wonderland Creek in which she wrote a pre-gushing blog post about a movie titled, Testament of Youth. Just by the pictures/synopsis of the movie, I immediately wanted to watch it, and felt sure I was going to love it.

Yup. I was right.

I am indebted to you, Naomi!!

The movie is based on Vera Brittain's memoir of her experiences of WWI, and the movie is produced by the same people who made The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This film was destined for greatness, just by those two elements. But let me warn you ... this film is gonna make you sob. It's rated PG-13 for blood and violence, but there's nothing overly disturbing in it. I think it's fine for my 11 year old sister to watch. The romance is extremely sweet and clean, unless you don't like kissing in movies. No swear words as far as I can remember. I'm very pleased with how family friendly it is!

The story follows the life of Vera Brittain, a young woman from a high class family in England who longs to study at Oxford and become a writer, while her parents wish for her to be married.

She's very close with her younger brother, Edward, and becomes good friends with his school chums, Roland and Victor.

She starts to fall in love with Roland, who encourages Vera in her dream of becoming a writer.

Roland: "You must write. Really."

Vera: "No one's ever said that to me before."

There were some funny scenes when Vera and Roland were on outings together with their chaperone. They were trying to hold hands and sit next to each other, but the chaperone kept squeezing right between them!

Just as Vera's accepted into Oxford and begins her studies, WWI breaks out, and her world is turned upside down. One by the one the boys march off to war, including Edward, Roland, and Victor.

This is an actual photograph of them. Roland is in the center, Edward is on the left, and school friend, Victor, is on the right.

From the movie: Roland on left, Victor in middle, and Edward on right.

Mrs. Brittain is played by Emily Watson. She's been in so many good movies ... War Horse, The Book Thief, and Miss Potter. I was excited to see she was in this one, too!

Vera, holding a letter: "It's from Oxford."
Mrs. Brittain: "Oh! I thought it was from a boy!"

I absolutely loved the brother/sister relationship! It was really sweet. =)

Here's Edward ... all grown up and saving China ... actually, England.

When Roland comes home on leave, he's changed by the war. He doesn't talk to Vera. He's angry and freighted by what he's witnessed in the trenches.

Vera reminds him that he still has a heart, and to not destroy it.

He proposes to her, asking her to marry him on his next leave. They talk about the wedding ... the gown, the people, the food.

Vera: "And cake!"
Roland: "Does it get any better than cake?!"

Vera decides to give up her studies at Oxford and become a nurse, and she later serves on the front. She actually gets assigned to help a cabin of German soldiers. She can speak German, and realizes they aren't just a faceless, cruel enemy. They feel the same pain her boys are feeling. They have families waiting for them, too.

The real Vera:

This movie did not end like I thought it would. It's based on real life, a real war, and real people, so don't expect it to end well. Grab some tissues. Like, a lot.

They'll want to forget you. They'll want me to forget. But I can't. I won't. This is my promise to you now. All of you.

If for some reason you're still not convinced, watch the trailer. You'll get goosebumps.

Have you ever seen Testament of Youth?


P.S. I found it online HERE for free ... I'm not sure how long the website will keep it up, but last I checked it's still there! WATCH IT!!!!!!

The Parcel

by Emily Ann Putzke

“Private Avery.”

Fabian gave the men beside him a shove as he worked his way through a horde of soldiers. A sergeant tossed him a parcel, then proceeded to call up another soldier. Fabian glanced at the address. It came all the way from Mississippi, postmarked December—nearly four months ago. He tucked it under his arm as he hiked through the muddy gravel.

“Avery, what’s that?” Private Rivers ran up to him, inspecting the parcel with intense interest.

“Christmas package from my parents and the girls.”

“Woah, gotta a lot of pretty girls back home, do ya?”

“My sisters,” he shoved his shoulder into Rivers.

“What they send ya?"

“How should I know, stupid? Haven’t opened the thing up yet.”

Fabian strolled away from the pack of soldiers and headed for a pile of rubble. No one would disturb him there. Glass crunched under his heavy boots and bone chilling breeze caused him to hunch over as he gained the last few paces to the heap. Billows of thick smoke still arose from the piles of debris. He slumped down onto a mountain of stones. Fabian flipped the parcel over in his stiff fingers. He was ready to tear into it until he caught Rivers circling him a hawk. “Get lost, would ya?” Fabian tossed handful of rubble at him.

Rivers leaped back. “Ok, ok! Just thought you might be the kinda fella to share with his best friend who never gets letters or packages, and who’s practically starving to death. But never mind, I was wrong.”
“Best friend?” Fabian laughed. “I just met you last month and you’ve been driving me insane asking for my cigarettes and rations. You get the same amount of food and supplies as I get, so don’t expect any sympathy from me.”

Rivers shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to plead another soldier to share his Christmas parcel.

Good riddance.

Fabian dug his fingers into the thick packaging tape and ripped it back in one quick motion. Before he lifted the cardboard flaps, he happened to glance up, feeling the sensation of being watched. His eyes scanned the area until they fell on a little boy standing a few feet ahead. He was small and slight with tousled dark hair, a ruddy complexion, and brown eyes three times too big for his face. His body was layered in dust and grime, and his clothes were disheveled mess. The boy was staring at his parcel.

Why does everyone want my Christmas package? Geez! Fabian glanced down at his package, then slowly lifted his gaze to the boy once more. Ah, well. Ma would probably want me to share it with this kid. I suppose it would be the right thing to do.

“Come on over, kid.”

The boy took tentative steps at first, holding his hands together tightly. Fabian tore off his army helmet and raked his fingers through his thick brown hair. He wasn’t sure if he looked more intimidating with or without the helmet. He must have looked ok, for the boy was approaching him, his eyes seeming even bigger now.

“Can you understand English?” Fabian asked. “Specifically southern English? I’m from Mississippi.”

The boy nodded.

“Can you speak it?”

The boy shook his head.

“Well, looks like I’ll be doing all the talking then. Sit a spell, boy.”

The boy sat on the rubble, leaning his body into Fabian’s shoulder and peering down into the parcel.

“This here is my Christmas present. Little late. It’s what—” he held up his wrist and checked his watch. “March 30th. Ah, who cares, as long as it gets to me sometime. Christmas in March ain’t so bad. Folks from up North say it feels more like Christmas right now anyway, what with the cold spell. Mississippi ain’t cold like this, even in December.” The boy glanced at him, then pointed at the package.

Fabian laughed in spite of himself. “Ok, I get it. Enough talking, you want what’s in this package.” He reached inside and found a folded letter lying on the top. He pocketed, figuring the kid wouldn’t care to hear about his family back home. Fabian heard shuffling and his eyes lifted, landing on a group of children. Four little girls and four small boys were staring at him, shivering in the brisk wind.

“Aww, heck. Get over here,” he waved his arm to them.

Smiles crept across their forlorn faces as they perched around him. Another boy leaned on his shoulder for a look, and the others stood close by, watching his every move.

Fabian now reached into the parcel. His hand landed on a small, firm bundle. He tore the wrapping and grinned as four bars of Baby Ruth met his eyes.

The kids will love this.

He opened the first candy bar, ripped off a small piece for himself, then passed the rest around for the children to enjoy. He popped a piece into his mouth and relished the sweet, nutty flavor with a content sigh. He watched as the children took a bite, then handed the candy bars down to be sure everyone had a taste. The children’s faces were beaming and the younger ones had remnants of the candy lingering on their lips.

All eyes were on him, wondering what perfection he would pull from his box now. Next was a pile of comic books. Sure, he was twenty-four but he still liked reading them. He tossed them one by one to the children. Their eyes lit up as they studied the bright pictures and funny looking characters. While they were preoccupied, he studied the remaining contents of his parcel. A pack of gum, some socks, slightly hard cookies, a bar of chocolate, and a pocket Bible. He allowed the children to take their pick of the food, feeling a warmth grow inside him at their happy chatter and joy in their eyes.

A loud, stern voice brought Fabian’s nerves to stand on end. He glanced up. A woman was motioning for the children to get away from him, worry etched on her face. They dropped the comic books and candy wrappers, running toward what was left of their neighborhood where the woman was waiting. The little boy whom he first saw suddenly turned around. He cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted, “Grazie!”

Fabian waved a hand with a grin on his face. “Anytime, kid.”

Vlogs, Writing, and WWII

Goodness, last week was exciting, busy, and full of celebrating! It's a wonderful feeling to have Ain't We Got Fun out into the world at last! This week has been on the busy side and I've been meaning to blog but never got around to it. But I'm here now with a cup of coffee in my hands, which I seriously just spilled all over my white shirt. Today's going to be a great day, I can already tell. =)

Writing wise, I've been plugging away at rewriting Resist. It's totally normal to have a crush on your main character, right? Hans ... he's pretty great.

But in all seriousness, this novel (which is based on a true story) parallels so many things happening in our world now. It's incredibly frighting to see how history does repeat itself.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

-George Santayana

These real life characters I'm writing about encourage me so much with their integrity, morality, and courage. I'm eager to share this story with you all someday!

Also writing wise, I've been mulling over a possible Sleeping Beauty retelling for the Rooglewood writing contest. I've only seen the Disney version, so I looked up the original story ... fairy tales creep me out. In part two of the Sleeping Beauty story, the mother-in-law wants to eat Briar Rose and her two children. Whhhhy?! Perhaps that's why retellings are needed. The original story has some issues involving cannibalism. On that note, anyone else going to enter the contest?!

I recently finished reading Women Heroes of WWII. I LOVED IT. It was the perfect sized book filled with 26 stories of espionage, sabotage, resistance, and rescue. It was broken up into 8 parts: Germany, Poland, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, and United States. Each section had an introduction about that country's part in the war, which I found so fascinating. And the courage of those women is incredible! Some of them I had already heard about, but there were quite a few I'd never heard of. The author, Kathryn J. Atwood, has written another book on women heroes of WWI that I'm eager to read! But I should probably wait ... it may cause me to write a WWI novel, and I'm not ready to dive into another project. =)

Speaking of WWII, my family got a trial on Netflix, and so I've been watching a few WWII documentaries. I recently watched the first episode of Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial, a topic that has always fascinated me. I haven't watched the other two episodes, but once I get the time, I definitely will. The first episode was SO well done.

I also watched Bugging Hitler's Soldiers. That was incredibly disturbing yet really, really interesting. It's about German POW's in Britain. They're actually imprisoned in very nice homes. Why? To make them feel at ease which will cause them to talk. The homes are bugged with microphones. In the basements and attics of these estates, the British are listening in on the German's conversations. The entire documentary (which is all acted out ... not boring in the least) doesn't have any fictional dialogue. Everything the Germans say in that documentary is true ... which is why it's so disturbing. I mean, we all know about the atrocities the Nazi committed, but hearing their matter of fact talk about the mass killings and everything ... it's disgusting. But this film was very well done.

In other news, I'm totally NOT a vlogger, but I signed up to be one of the authors involved in the Read-to-Win challenge over at Homeschooled Authors. You'll get to learn more about us authors throughout the summer, from video tours of our writing desks to videos of us explaining why we write, the best writing advice we've ever received and much more! This week is author introductions! I'm one of the authors in the video below.

At my first attempt at making this video I was like, "WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS?" because I'm not really into vlogging. But I just made my third video yesterday and sent it in, and vlogging is getting a bit easier ... but it's still not my favorite pastime.

Anyway, you readers have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card by reviewing our books! Each week one of the authors participating will put their ebook on sale for 99 cents.  Here's the lineup:

Kelsey Bryant: Family Reunion (this week)
Julia Erickson: Ashburn
Ashley Elizabeth Blair Tetzlaff: An Easter Carol
Amber Schamel: The Healer's Touch

Katie Daniels: Supervillian Series
Kendra E. Ardnek: The Ankulen
Faith Blum: Amazing Grace
Emily Ann Putzke: It Took a War
J. Grace Pennington: Machiavellian
Jessica Greyson: Captive of Raven Castle
Morgan Huneke: Creighton Hill
Jason McIntire: The Sparrow Found a House

Hop on over to Homeschooled Authors to watch the other introduction videos, and review a book! Just think what you could buy with $100 on Amazon ... BOOKS and MORE BOOKS!

Oh, and if you need a good laugh today, head over to my older sister, Jamie's, blog, The Art of Making a Home.

4 year old niece, Clare: Ava, let's pretend I'm allergic to oxygen.
5 year old niece, Ava: Clare, that's impossible. How about carbon dioxide?

How are your writing projects going? Are you entering the Sleeping Beauty contest?


Rooglewood Press Writing Contest!

Rooglewood Press holds an annual fairy tale creative writing contest. Their first collection was Cinderella retellings. It's currently a bestseller and has just been translated into Italian. Their second collection is Beauty and Beast and will be released this summer. Now they're announcing the subject of their 3rd annual contest ... ready for this?

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their third fairy tale novella contest—

Five Magic Spindles
a collection of “Sleeping Beauty” stories

Cover Illustration Credit:This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website: www.forestgirl.ru 


    The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like.
Make certain your story is recognizably “Sleeping Beauty,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

    Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Magic Spindles
collection, which will be packaged up with the phenomenal cover you see here. Maybe your
name will be one of the five listed?

    All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.
Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers is available for purchase, and our
second collection, Five Enchanted Roses is scheduled to launch on July 27, and is currently
available for pre-order. Be certain to get a copy of each and see what previous winners did with
their wonderful retellings.

    Please consider posting the blog button on your sidebars so that others will learn about this
contest! Here is the link to include: http://www.rooglewoodpress.com/#!writing-contest/c22i6

Happy brainstorming and writing!!