December 28, 2012

Adulation by Elisa Lorello

No, she was looking at him not with adulation or adoration or even infatuation. It was something else, something he couldn't put is finger on. Whatever it was, he believed it to be genuine
-from Adulation by Elisa Lorello

My favorite genre to read for fun is "smart chick lit"; however, the term "smart" is fairly relative which makes finding the perfect relaxing book to read somewhat difficult. I don't shy away from mindless romantic reads, but I definitely get more excited when I have a sweet, mushy book that I can also analyze from a literary perspective and requires me use my brain. Without fail, every single one of Elisa Lorello's books have delivered what I consider to be the perfect recipe for smart chick lit, and her fourth novel, Adulation, is no exception.

In Adulation, Danny Masters is a famous screenwriter and Sunny Smith is one of his biggest fans. When they meet at a premiere for one of his films, Danny becomes enamored by Sunny (see quote above). At the Q-and-A after the screening, Danny makes a rude comment about his fans and Sunny, offended and appalled, takes the opportunity to give him a piece of her mind. Unfortunately for her, the confrontation is caught on film and goes viral. The subsequent stories of Danny and Sunny parallel each other and the idea of adulation is explored: Danny being addicted to the spotlight and Sunny doing everything she can to avoid it. What unfolds is a smart, funny and heartwarming story about two parallel lives you'll be praying will intersect again the whole time you're reading.

As I've mentioned before (in this review and others), Elisa Lorello has a gift for writing smart chick-lit. She delivers a sweet love story but doesn't sacrifice the plight of a strong female protagonist and not without giving us multiple layers of a story to dissect and analyze. What I found particularly impressive was the parallels she drew between Danny and Sunny as they went about their lives after meeting. Both characters are so different, almost complete foils of each other, and yet they go through very similar experiences independently. Both struggle with difficult pasts that unfold as the story progresses and have shaped them into the people they have become. They both struggle with their identity in their work, maintaining friendships, balancing relationships, and ultimately their struggles with adulation. I loved the little nuances that showed how similar Danny and Sunny's experiences were despite living such dramatically different lives. I feel that Lorello did a great job of stripping away Danny's celebrity and presenting him as not much different than normal, almost boring, Sunny.

Aside from excelling in creating a smart story, Lorello is even more talented at creating lovable characters. After every one of her novels I go into withdrawals, missing her characters like they're my own real friends (since I was in 6th grade this has always been a clear indicator for me of a great writer). I think the characters of Adulation might even be my favorite that Lorello has created. While Danny is a rich, talented and somewhat self-absorbed screenwriter, his good qualities also shine through enough to make him balanced and human. Readers learn just enough of Sunny's past and fear of the future to root for her and become excited as she stretches outside of her comfort zone to conquer a list of 40 things she must accomplish at the age of 40. Even the secondary characters steal the show, most notably Sunny's outspoken gay best friend Georgie, who is the driving force behind Sunny's metamorphosis. I loved Georgie like my own gay bffs!

Without spoiling the book for you, my only complaint is the end because I felt it finished much too abruptly. In one sense it was a perfectly suited ending to the story, but it wasn't completely satisfying. I can only hope that (much like my favorite Elisa Lorello book Faking It) we're going to get a sequel to this book. Fingers are most definitely crossed!

Bottom Line: If you love chick-lit, you need to read this! If you're picky about the chick-lit you read and prefer it to be smart, you really need to read this! If you got a Kindle for Christmas, you need to download your copy immediately! It's only a few bucks on Amazon!! 4/5 stars

December 21, 2012

Wild Grace by Max Lucado

Here's my hunch: we've settled for wimpy grace. It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, "Do you believe in grace?" who could say no? This book asks deeper questions: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your sense by grace? God's grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. [...] Once you encounter it, you'll never be the same.
-from Wild Grace by Max Lucado

{buy here}

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Book Sneeze in exchange for an honest review. 

There have been times in my life when I don't know how I managed to get through certain trials and remain intact. Surely by now I should be damaged and hopeless, should have given in to vices or changed who and what I put my faith into. I used to explain that it's like God has put a shield over me to protect me from harm; after reading Max Lucado's Wild Grace, I have realized it wasn't a shield per se, but God's wild grace that protected me.

Wild Grace is a non-fiction book that has been adapted for teens to break down grace in a less superficial way than it is often explained or used. Grace, Lucado explains, is "simply another word for God's tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection" (59). Grace is something God has given us through Jesus' death that trumps all of the bad things we've done and experienced and helps us persevere through the bad things we have yet to encounter. This book further helps the reader recognize how grace can help them cope with sin, guilt, and other troubles while explaining how to receive that grace from God. The reader is also encouraged to show grace to others upon receiving God's grace for themselves. 

As a teen, I was never very intrigued by non-fiction books because there wasn't a story to capture my attention. I know this isn't the case with all readers, but I always wanted to skip ahead because material, especially in self-help type books, wasn't intriguing enough. I think what sets Wild Grace apart from the rest are the questions and talking points the book contains throughout. These questions helped focus my attention in on connecting the material with my real life experiences. Questions like, "When was the last time someone did something truly awful to you? Did you respond with a grudge or with grace?" (90) not only encourage the reader to think about what they're reading, but it also provides a great segue for parents to discuss the book with their teens. 

Similarly, there are personal stories scattered throughout the book to bring the content to life. While I didn't particularly connect with all of these stories, I think as a teen reader I would be more interested and they would make more of an impact on me. I think these stories can help entertain the reader while aiding in comprehension of material. I particularly enjoyed how Max Lucado shared his struggle with alcoholism and his experience drinking as a teen; this is just one of the many examples of how Lucado does not talk down to his reader and steps down to their level to teach and encourage. Such transparency is what makes Max Lucado one of my favorite Christian authors. 

Bottom Line: Although this book is adapted for teens, Wild Grace is a perfectly acceptable book for someone of any age, especially "baby Christians". I think this would make a particularly great stocking stuffer or last minute Christmas gift to any teen in your life who you should be reminded of God's love and grace for them. 4/5 Stars for Adults / 5/5 Stars for Teens

December 18, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms? 
-from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The Holocaust is a subject that I wouldn't recommend writing about unless you've lived through it, and yet John Boyne has done an exceptional job of representing one of the most incomprehensible chapters in humanity's history with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a fictional novel. I am always very nervous and cautious reading stories about the Holocaust because each account is different yet equally horrific. Despite the time I have spent studying the Holocaust while earning my degree in Religious Studies, I can never get used to hearing about the experiences and tend to read more juvenile literature which isn't quite as graphic (i.e. The Diary of Anne Frank and my personal favorite Upon the Head of a Goat: A Childhood in Hungary). This novel delivers the gravity of the Holocaust, but through the eyes of a child who has no understanding of the horrors surrounding him, making it a less difficult read emotionally than it should be.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is told from the third-person perspective of 9-year old Bruno, the son of the commanding officer of Auschwitz, the most deadly of Hitler's death camps. Bruno has no real understanding of World War II and the Holocaust other than his juvenile interpretation of the world around him. After leaving Berlin to relocate to Auschwitz and bored out of his mind, Bruno goes exploring and meets Shmuel, a boy on the other side of the fence. Bruno and Shmuel develop a friendship despite their differences, illustrating that they aren't that different at all.

I really enjoyed the innocence captured in this book and how it gave a new lens with which to view history. In the Author's Note, Boyne says, "I believed that the only respectful way for me to deal with this subject was through the eyes of a child, and particularly through the eyes of a very naive child who couldn't possibly understand the terrible things that were taking place around him." Boyne does an excellent job executing this method and somehow finds a way of showing the humanity of the enemy through Bruno.

Boyne creates Bruno's world through a series of innocent misunderstandings (i.e. 'Heil Hitler,' [Bruno] said, which, he presumed was another way of saying, 'Well, goodbye for now, have a pleasant afternoon.'), clever writing, and dramatic irony (Bruno's perspective of his life versus Shmuel's is: "there's no one to talk to and no one to play with and you get to have dozens of friends and are probably playing for hours every day." As readers we know that Bruno is very wrong.). We also witness Bruno's indoctrination of beliefs through his family ('Germany is the greatest of all countries,' Bruno replied, remembering something that he had overheard Father discussing with Grandfather on any number of occasions. 'We're superior.') which encourages us to question the validity our own beliefs we've had since children and inherited from our families.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is not perfect, however. Obviously, many readers may not appreciate the simple platform on which such a grave and devastating topic is discussed. Another complaint is the translation issues. Bruno makes it clear that he and his family speak German; however, he mispronounces Auschwitz as "Out-With" and his sister explains, 'Out with the people who lived here before us, I expect,' - which makes no sense if translated into German. (For the record, "out with" in English translated to German is raus mit, I checked to make sure my complaint was reasonable). Similarly, Bruno misunderstands Hitler's title the fuhrer, calling him "The Fury"; to English readers this is funny and ironic, but "fury" translated into German is wut and this misunderstanding loses its punch.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a simple read and not very long, proving you don't need a complicated book to illustrate a powerful message. While I'd like to believe we live in a more tolerant world today, the truth is that we can always be reminded of how much we have in common with even those who are most different from us. Bruno and Shmuel had a physical fence between them, but what fences do we put up every day between ourselves and others?

After all, only the victims and survivors can truly comprehend the
awfulness of that time and place; the rest of us live on the other
side of the fence, staring through from our own comfortable
place, trying in our own clumsy ways to make sense of it all.
-from the Author's Note 

Bottom Line: I recommend that everyone read this book, unless you are especially sensitive to the Holocaust. This would make a great book to read for a book club because of how much there is to discuss. This would also make a great gift this holiday season for a fiction lover who also loves history, especially WWII history.  ★★★★/5

December 14, 2012

Who Is Santa Claus? by William Walsh

{buy here}

I saw this book in the Kindle Lending Library and decided to give it a read for fun. I figured it would be a light read with cute folk lore about Santa and Christmas, perfect for the holiday season. While it was a quick read, it was far more informative than I anticipated. I also thought this might be a book written for a younger audience, but the explication of facts, legends and details Walsh lays out carefully is articulated in a much more mature manner.

Beginning with the origins of Saint Nicholas, Walsh traces the development of modern Santa Claus in a variety of countries and cultures. Because of the limited facts regarding "Santa Claus", the unverified tales tangent into a variety of branches to the question of who Santa Claus is. Walsh tackles many, if not all, of the stories that inform us of this holiday figure. Understandably, reading about all of these stories can get daunting at times, especially because Walsh talks about Santa in a variety of cultures and time periods; but if you're interested in history and culture you will probably love it! 

Walsh also discusses the Christmas Tree, the three Wise Men, and the 12 days of Christmas. Being a Religion major in college I already knew most of the history and background tales noted, but it was very well articulated and better detailed in this book.

My favorite part of this book was learning about how the legend of St. Nicholas blended with Jesus Christ ("Chris Kindlein" or "Christ child") as the center of Christmas. The term Kris Kringle/Krinkle actually coming from Chris Kindlein even though the image of Kris Kringle/Krinkle is that of St. Nicholas. I find it fascinating to see how ideas have developed and changed over time and this book is definitely a great illustration of that in regards to Christmas.

Bottom Line: This is an informative book about the origins of the man we refer to as "Santa Claus". If you're interested in history and culture, this is a great read! Expect it to be informative and detailed rather than a fluffy Christmas book. 4/5 Stars

December 11, 2012

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Romeo didn't belong with Juliet; he belonged with me. It was supposed to be us together forever, and it would have been if she hadn't come along and stolen him away. Maybe then all of this could have been avoided. Maybe then they'd still be alive.What if the greatest love story ever told was the wrong one?
-from When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

{buy here}

I have always been a sucker for "fractured fairy tales" and classic stories being retold by new voices (I think that's why I love Disney movies so much!). I have also always been a sucker for Shakespeare, in awe of the way he uses the dynamics of relationships to create stories that are as mind-blowing today as they were centuries ago when they were written. So when I heard about Rebecca Serle's When You Were Mine, it was essentially book candy on which I wanted to overdose!

Set in modern day southern California, When You Were Mine is the retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet from the perspective of Rosaline (are you as absolutely giddy over the premise as I was?! It's probably sad that I'm not being sarcastic at all right now!). If you don't remember Rosaline from middle school English class, she's the girl Romeo was madly in love with at the beginning of the play; until he met Juliet, of course. The first thing I thought of when I heard about this book was, "Why hasn't anyone else done this already?? Why didn't I think of this?!"  (Honestly, maybe it has been done, but not to my knowledge).

So the idea is great, but what about the execution? I had high hopes when I started reading and overall I feel like the story delivered, but I admit I had to keep reminding myself that this is a contemporary Young Adult novel. Rob Montag and Rose Caplet are high school students who have been next door neighbors most of their lives. They have grown up as best friends but their friendship is beginning to blossom into more, much to Rose's excitement. But when her cousin Juliet moves back to town (after years of being estranged from Rose's family for a political scandal, no less), Rob becomes more interested in Juliet, leaving Rose (friendship and all) in the dust.

The story line and narration was very "high school" and I found myself becoming exhausted at times, like I was truly listening to a teenage girl babble. In one sense, this made me consider Serle as an incredible writer because she was authentically able to capture the voice of teenage Rose and maintain that voice throughout the novel. However, it did make reading taxing at times; almost everything Rose said consisted of her reflecting on something that had happened to her and her friends previously (think, "One time. At band camp...."). This did not slow my reading down necessarily (I inhaled the novel in 1 day), but I felt all of these side stories did affect the pace of the novel. I think it also made me feel self-conscious, like, is this what I sounded like at this age? (Don't answer that, Mom!).

But we're seventeen now, not seven, and I'm not sure how 
to act. Rob's better at this. He can talk to anyone about 
anything. One time we went to Colonial Williamsburg on
a trip with our parents, and he talked to the shoemaker 
for an hour about their mutual love of the Lakers. I didn't
even know colonial people watched television, but Rob 
got it out of him. His smile just kind of melts people

Aside from this Young Adult novel sounding like a super young adult (trying to emphasize that I can't really fault the novel for my biggest complaint), I really enjoyed the characters, the plot and especially the parallels between Shakespeare's version. The main characters were likable, especially Rose and her best friends. The only characters I wish the story would have given more dimension to are Rob and Juliet. I thought Rob was well developed until he fell for Juliet; I couldn't understand why such a great guy would go for this snotty girl, which made me feel like maybe I didn't understand Rob at all. (Of course, I'm sure Rose felt the same way and she is the narrator, after all). I was disappointed that there was not more depth to Juliet as well, but I suppose it's only fair that her side was mostly omitted from this story, as Rosaline's was cut out of the original.

What makes this novel stand out to me is how many emotions are vicariously experienced while reading: hopeful, happy, disappointed, angry, jealous, frustrated, sad, guilty, lonely, desperate, grieved, peaceful, and right back around to hopeful (there are probably a dozen more I left out). It's an extreme love story (we all know how it ends), but told by the perspective of Rose it's refreshing and introduces the point of view of those who lived after Romeo and Juliet died. What is most rewarding toward the end is how Serle paints the picture of Rose's grief on top of a shattered heart. Without giving too much away, I feel like the conclusion was heartwarming and hopeful, despite its tragedy. Serle gives us something familiar that we can mourn differently than the first time we heard this tale. 

Bottom Line: If you're a sucker for Romeo & Juliet, this is a must-read. If you're a sucker for YA I highly recommend this, too! This would make a great Christmas gift for the teenage girl in your life or any lover of Shakespeare and/or classic romances! // 4½/5 stars. {rounding up!}

Are you a fan of "fractured fairy tales" or classic stories told in a new way? What is your favorite interpretation of an old classic (i.e. Wicked, The Lion King, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc)?

December 7, 2012

Book Tour: Here Among Us by Maggie Harryman


They had all been shown the truth too early; that death could come right now, or on the drive home or, like her father, after closing up the bar this evening [...]. Death could come in an instant or could take months or even years and either way it would be a shock that would seem impossible to get beyond but would be gotten beyond because the sick irony was that there were only two choices- life or death- and in fact, they weren't choices at all.
-from Here Among Us by Maggie Harryman

{Buy here}

Publisher's synopsis: When unemployed San Francisco attorney, Flynn O’Shea, and her teenaged daughter, Didi, are summoned to New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday by Flynn’s socialite sister, Maeve, she expects a fight. After all, she has been battling Maeve most of her life. Disagreeing about the extent of their Irish mother’s creeping dementia and the fate of the family’s thriving restaurant business, named for their beloved, long dead father, Paddy, is surely a recipe for a world-class brawl. 

What Flynn doesn’t expect is the fragile truce the sisters forge to save O’Shea’s from the clutches of Maeve’s scheming husband, Jeffrey. Flynn and Maeve are reluctantly aided by their forty-four-year-old brother, Osheen, a handsome Peter Pan still cruising the Jersey shore, getting high and dodging responsibility.

And while Didi tries to convince her mother that “everything is as it should be,” just when Flynn is sure she’s gained the upper hand on Jeffrey, her own mother’s shocking confession sends her into a wine-soaked tailspin and forces her to deal once and for all with the ghosts of her past. Devastated, Flynn must choose to save O’Shea’s or risk losing forever all she has left of her father.

In Here Among Us, the O’Sheas find themselves dealing with the very timely issue of Alzheimer’s, a disease that strips the victim's identity and wreaks havoc on the family left to pick up the pieces. But Flynn, Osheen and Maeve’s troubles began long before their mother started to “slip.” For the O’Sheas, much of their shared angst is rooted in the single most devastating event of their lives—the death of their father when they were young children. The novel explores not only how deep wounds can seem impossible to heal, but how refusing to let go of the stories the O'Sheas desperately cling to about who they are, threatens to hasten their demise.

Review: Here Among Us is not your average heart-warming family story where the characters are all so lovable that the reader automatically forgives them for their faults right out of the gate. In fact, for the first third of the book or so I didn't even really love the book because the characters weren't as likable as I'm accustomed to. But in hindsight, after reading the whole novel, that's what makes this book so powerful and marks Maggie Harryman as a poignantly talented writer.

Main character, Flynn O'Shea, immediately irritated me as a reader because I enjoy protagonists that I can immediately get behind and root for. This was not the case with Flynn because she was so negative. Similarly, Flynn's sister "Queen Maeve" was less than capable of capturing my trust as a reader with her diva qualities and condescending attitude. However, I had a realization midway through this book when I found myself rooting for both Flynn and Maeve in separate instances and I asked myself where in the book did my allegiance to them change. I can't pinpoint a moment when both Flynn and Maeve became likable because, unlike many literary characters, they aren't black and white. I feel almost like Harryman wants the readers to believe these characters are black and white, good or bad, only to later realize they're not. Even the "villain" of the story has emotional baggage that can be explored deeper and makes him appear (slightly) more forgiving. It's rare to find characters in literature as real as the O'Shea's, probably because authors don't want their readers bored or frustrated with characters at any point. I'm glad Harryman was able to execute this because in the end it was well worth any initial frustrations I had as a reader. 

As I mentioned, the first third of the book or so I wasn't as motivated to read as the rest. This was in part because of the character flaws mentioned above, but also because there are a lot of flashbacks that blend in with present-day and slow the story down significantly. While they aren't boring per se, I did feel they interrupted the pace at the beginning of the story; but reader press on: the time invested in reading the flashbacks will be rewarded by the end of the story when they make more sense. I didn't realize as I read that this book is like a puzzle and each memory a segment to that puzzle; by the end when everything comes together you should be thoroughly impressed by how Harryman artfully weaves this story together. 

Aside from the story as a whole impressing me, you can also look forward to salacious drama, blackmail and scandal, a sprinkle of romance, and some serious twists and turns. If the first half of the book was somewhat temperate, the last half more than made up for it. Personally, I could relate to a lot of the family dysfunction specifically the secrets that rock the O'Shea family in this book. From that perspective I can say Harryman is able to articulate a family dynamic not many can accomplish successfully.

As a whole, I really loved this book and appreciate the way every incident counted toward the conclusion. I could probably go on explicating it from other angles (I haven't even mentioned one of the central topics of death yet..!), but I'll stop so you can go read it for yourself! 

Bottom Line: This book is a great story for anyone who loves fiction, especially if you can relate to the dysfunction of a family who fights and loves as hard as the O'Shea's do. If you aren't hooked right away, don't let it deter you from finishing the book because its payout is worth your investment of time! 5/5

PhotobucketAbout the Author: Maggie Harryman was born in New Jersey and moved to San Francisco soon after college. She received an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and spent the ensuing years working as a copywriter in various industries including healthcare, tech and real estate/finance.

Maggie lives in Northern California in the heart of wine country, has two wonderful children in college and an old, faithful dog named, Humphrey.
Here Among Us is her debut novel. She also has two short stories on Amazon; Jesus, Mary and Joseph Michael Duffy Has Arisen and Cleaning Naked

Maggie's website              Maggie on GoodReads

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more on this tour and others, visit Sage's Blog Tours!

December 3, 2012

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Love is many things, none of them logical.
-from The Princess Bride  by William Goldman

One of the best movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Rarely do I make such a general statement with such finality, but I can assure you I'm telling the truth. If you doubt me, try to say, "My name is Inigo Montoya--" and not finish that sentence or try night to giggle when I pronounce marriage "mawidge". Maybe it's my age, but The Princess Bride was such a huge part of pop culture for me growing up and I didn't even own the movie until recently! I saw this film for the first time when a tv/vcr cart was wheeled into my 2nd grade classroom on a rainy day and my life was changed forever {being dramatic is totally okay here}.

It's really, really difficult for me to watch a movie and then read a book. Aside from knowing what is going to happen, the imagination required for reading is unnecessary because you already have an image of everything in your head. However, because of my love for The Princess Bride movie I decided to give the book a try. Please note, I'm going to write this review with the assumption that you have seen the movie.

Something I did not know is that The Princess Bride is not an original story by William Goldman, it is actually a retelling of S. Morgenstern's story that Goldman's father told him as a child. Rather than reading like a direct story, the book reads rather informally, with Goldman giving asides in italics to justify what he has cut out of the story and why or explaining his reactions to certain parts as a boy. This is reminiscent of the boy (Fred Savage's character) in the movie whose grandfather is reading him the story. Sometimes Goldman's asides are long and have little to do with the story, but often times they are funny and give smart insight into what both Morgenstern and Goldman hope to achieve as writers through the book. I must admit, I skimmed through some of the italics, but to my credit Goldman gives permission to do so in the introduction. 

The story of Westley's adventure to save his love Buttercup from Prince Humperdink is almost exactly the same in both book and movie, verbatim. In fact, Goldman wrote the script for the movie, so very little was lost in translation. If you commonly read books and then see a film adaptation you know that it's very rare for everything to be left in tact. I know I may be a little biased {okay, more than a little...}, but The Princess Bride is a franchise that belongs with the likes of Harry Potter when it comes to properly executing this transition.

So if the movie is such a great interpretation of the book with practically word-for-word accuracy (seriously, all of those lines you repeat from the movie actually came from the book), is the book even worth reading? YES! The benefit of reading The Princess Bride versus watching the movie is, as with 99.99% of all books, you get so much more background information that helps you to better appreciate the characters. Westley and Buttercup's relationship is illustrated in depth with some of the most touching verbal exchanges of love I've read; the murder of Inigo's father by the six-fingered man is explained along with Inigo's journey to prepare himself for revenge; and we learn about gentle giant Fezzik and how such an intimidating man could be so caring. Knowing what each of these characters are fighting for and how their love drives them through this adventure gives so much more depth to the story, even when watching the movie. 

Additionally, the book offers more detail in the action scenes, primarily when Inigo and Fezzik rescue Westley from the torture chamber. I was also better able to understand the political conflict between Florin and Guilder through the book's details. As with most books, The Princess Bride gives a more well-rounded picture of the whole story that are limited in film adaptations due to time constraints. 

Bottom Line: If you love The Princess Bride {who doesn't!} and haven't read this book, I highly recommend it!! ★★★★★/5

Fun Facts: Did you know that Saul on Homeland is played by Mandy Patinkin, the same actor who played Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride?! Also, Prince Humperdink is the voice of Jack Skellington! And more commonly known: Buttercup is also Jenny in Forrest Gump, awesome! Don't you just love Hollywood?! :)