Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reader Re-Route

Ugh, I feel really bad about this...I said in my last post months ago that I was having issues with Blogger's compatibility with my browser and in the meantime, I set up a new book blog on WordPress. Well, I thought I would be able to get back to this one once the browser was updated, but you see how that turned out. Since things are going to be really quiet over here, I thought I might as well give you guys a heads-up. If anyone is still reading this blog, and wants to keep reading something, my new center of operations is The Humble Book Nerd at WordPress. I'll try to get back over here someday!

Your pal,


Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Hallelujah! Blame a faulty computer and an outdated browser for the silence, but I have returned! *throws confetti* Anyone glad to see me? (Don't feel obligated to answer, it's a rhetorical question. I promise, I won't get my feelings hurt.)

Also, I have a new name! :)

Your pal,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

A Song of Ice and Fire, book one

 In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


I've spent ages searching for my next epic fantasy fix when I'm on break from Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I tried Paolini, Goodkind, Brooks, and Jordan, and none of them panned out. Then, then, I found Martin.

It doesn't seem right to call this "fantasy," though, as there is hardly any magic present at all. The prologue snagged me, but that seemed to be where the mystic stopped and the intrigues began. Plots, subplots, counterplots, and all the scheming, backstabbing, secrets and betrayal you can fit in over eight hundred pages (count 'em! Eight hundred!) The best part, it was all so swiftly executed, there was no way I was able to guess what would come next. I haven't made so many wrong predictions since Rebecca!

There are a LOT of perspectives used, but each is so interesting and distinct from the others I had no trouble keeping up with them. I admit to skimming a lot of the descriptions, though...GRRM seems to be as fond of describing things as Robin McKinley. I adored Arya and Dany and only wish there could have been more chapters with them. I began by disliking Sansa quite a bit, but my love for her evolved as the story progressed; I just couldn't help myself, and I can't explain without including spoilers! Tyrion Lannister didn't take long to become my favorite, sarcastic, clever underdog that he is (no pun intended, I promise), and he tied with Catelyn Stark as the most complex character of the piece. I'm still not sure about Jon, though...I could go either way with him, depending on how he evolves. As for Ned Stark, I liked him so much I knocked a star off my rating on his behalf. Confused? I'll leave it with this: Martin is a much better writer than Suzanne Collins, and that makes pulling a stunt like she did in Mockingjay that much more unforgivable.

I appreciated the book's human aspect most of all. It's not black-and-white, good versus evil. There's gray matter. We're a flawed species, and Martin sure as hell didn't neglect that detail. Honorable men sire bastards, good warriors make bad kings, the best intentions have the worst consequences. It's not that the lines between right and wrong are blurred, but that humans in general always tend to see themselves in the right, which leads to no end of trouble. One of my favorite quotes was from one of my least favorite characters, "The things I do for love..." Again, I can't say more without spoiling it, but it serves as a good example of what I'm talking about.

A Game of Thrones was gritty, brutal, intense, and occasionally offensive. It was true to life and preached nothing, but rather seemed to hold up a mirror and say "take a look at yourselves" while still providing an excellent escape. If the rest of the series is up to this standard, I'll be more than satisfied.

But I'm still not giving out that last star. 

Your humble book nerd,

2013 In Review

Well, it's been a weird year around here...let's do a quick recap.

Angels read...
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Opera Ghost Unraveled by Michelle Rodriguez
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Vamphyrric by Simon Clark
The Pirouettes That Angels Spin by Michelle Rodriguez
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Daydreaming Roses and Fairytale Monsters by Michelle Rodriguez
Love Changes Everything by Kelly McQuinn
Night World, No. 1 by L.J. Smith
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul, Volume 2 by Michelle Rodriguez
Chanson de l'Ange Book One: Orphan In Winter by Paisley Swan Stewart

and watched...
Beowulf and Grendel

Featured Artists
Lindsey Stirling
Bob Dylan
George Strait

Featured Lyrics
Broken - Seether feat. Amy Lee
Carnival of Rust - Poets of the Fall
Storybook Love - Willy DeVille
Love Song For a Vampire - Annie Lennox
Gravity - Sara Bareilles
Your Love Will Kill Me - Daniel Lavoie
Water From the Moon - Celine Dion
The Red Strokes - Garth Brooks
All the Love A Heart Can Hold - Sherrie Austin
Neon Moon - Brooks and Dunn

Noteworthy Posts
Michelle Gliottoni-Rodriguez sings "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
The Opera Ghost Unraveled book trailer
Angels sings "The Change"
Favorite Phan Videos
Angels has a birthday party!
Opera Macabre book trailer
"The First Choice"
Angels tallies up some statistics
Interview with Michelle Rodriguez
Angels gives a writing tip
Advice From the Phantom
Chanson de l'Ange arrives!
Leroux readings

Well, that seems to be everything important, and it's not that much...maybe things will be better this year! I've already decided to scale back the posts, and I mean it this time! It's going to be mostly reviews, with occasional music and writing posts, and of course more Phantom stuff. I still have to finish the phan challenge!

Your pal,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


We've still got a lot of steam left in this party! Who cares that it's almost one o'clock?!

Sideways - Dierks Bentley

Beer Money - Kip Moore

Drink the Night Away - Gaelic Storm

Auld Lang Syne -Kevin Walsh

Happy New Year, guys!

Your pal,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Chanson de l'Ange Book One: Orphan In Winter - Paisley Swan Stewart

Chanson de l’Ange by Paisley Swan Stewart is a 3 volume epic retelling of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Drawing inspiration from The Opera Ghost in all his incarnations through book and film; and remaining faithful to key story elements from the classic original, the author weaves a haunting tale of Christine Daae’s companionship with the mysterious Angel of Music.

Book One~Orphan in Winter: opens with the tragic death of ten year old Christine Daae’s father, ushering in dramatic changes when she is left in the care of Madame Louise Giry. Christine makes her new home in the The Paris Opera’s conservatory where she encounters a bohemian world of singers and dancers, and where she is visited by the unseen Angel of Music.


FINALLY! Years and years of patience have been rewarded! I haven't even been waiting as long as some readers, and certainly not as long as the author herself. Ten years of love and labor are richly paid off. Congratulations, Swannie!

Book one sets the stage for what is bound to be an amazing journey into the world of The Phantom of the Opera. One of the things I missed in Gaston Leroux's original was more detailed characters. There is solid framework in the rather short novel (too short for my liking!), but Erik, Christine, and Raoul remain archetypes. I wanted deeper psychological profiles, and Paisley didn't disappoint me. The focus of Orphan In Winter is the beginning of Christine's relationship with the Angel of Music and her slow entrance into adolescence and adulthood, so I'll start with her.

Christine is usually portrayed as an insipid, insufferable child, complete with the trademark Sarah Brightman vacant stare. Paisley brushes that aside, showing us a lost little girl grieving her father and so desperate to have him back that she clings to his final promise to send an angel to watch over her. The Angel appearing while she is still a child makes her seem less gullible and more like a kid believing in Santa...and when Santa remains a constant presence for seven years straight, it's no wonder she still believes in him. She inspires empathy and love--I would call her one of the few Christines that have inspired such feelings apart from the original. She is fanciful, not simple, and her slow awakening to womanhood is remarkable.

Which brings me to Erik. Very well-written, capturing all the power, mystery, and tragedy of his character. He is a complex man, to say the least, and difficult to write, and it spells disaster for any writer who fails to pull him off...fortunately, Paisley did. His eroticism and masculinity were thrilling indeed, but I was even more moved by his changing feelings for Christine. He becomes her benefactor on a whim, like he has nothing better to do, then comes to care for her as a guardian until his love becomes the obsessive, consuming passion that drives him onward. A gripe I always had with the '04 movie's attempt at a backstory was how it contradicted what the audience already knows about Erik, and I appreciated how neatly Paisley sorted out that tangle. I would have liked to see more of his dark side, since he is by no means a selfless, benevolent, rational man, but the story has only just begun...

Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny. I can't clear out of here without saying something about him. Oft abused, usually the victim of horrific character assassination by extremely biased writers that refuse to give him any credit whatsoever. I was ready for all of that when he showed up in the last half of the book, but I was delighted with the accurate portrayal! A sensible, caring, impulsive young man head over heels in love with his childhood playmate. After seeing him trampled so many times I've taken to carrying pom poms for him, and I'm glad he wasn't written into an abusive/alcoholic/unlovable loser we've seen so often (by simple virtue of his not being Erik! What gives?)

To wrap up my discourse on characterization, I applaud Paisley's portrayal of the Girys! They were precisely what I've imagined, and I love that they play a key part!

The rich detail and stunning imagery are wonderful, but what I loved most about Orphan In Winter was the budding romance paired with the disturbing aspects of Erik and Christine's relationship. It's complex, as it should be. She has known him as an invisible Angel. He's been a father figure to her, and so twined with the memory of her father that any idea of a romantic relationship seems, well, disturbing. Music remains the binding force between them, and Christine's song "The Bleeding Rose" serves as a brilliant theme, tied to her past and foreshadowing the triangle to come. Ending with Christine's debut in Faust was absolutely breathtaking, and thank God I had Book Two ready to pick right up!

Chanson de l'Ange outstrips most Phantom retellings I've read. There is a genuine love and understanding of the story that is too often lacking, making it all the more amazing when you find it. I put it on the shelf directly next to Gaston Leroux with select other retellings, and there it will stay. If the other books are half as good, they will have earned it!


Your humble book nerd,

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Leroux Readings

Ah, my dears, I have some jewels for you! Recordings of readings from Leroux by YouTuber MaskedLion! I can't even describe them, you just HAVE to listen!

Dying of Love monologue

Dressing Room Confrontation (all right, so this is from Kay, but it's still good!)

The Unmasking Scene (you'll have to settle for a link. Sorry.)

Your pal,