Saturday, January 21, 2012

Had To Share This 7

I've been sluffing off lately...bad Angels! Very bad Angels! Anyway, I've got something for you. I don't watch True Blood, but there are no words to describe how much I freaking love this song. It's been my favorite for years.

Garth Brooks - The Red Strokes

Your pal,

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reviews From an HBN (The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien)

January's been feeling neglected lately and I've been slacking on the BBC's list, so here we are and away we go! Let me just clarify that I always feel like an idiot writing reviews on books this well-known and popular, but I'll do my best.

The Fellowship of the Ring

 Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him - and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be detroyed - in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom.

The Two Towers

The Fellowship was scattered. Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron. Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman. Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor–the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme. Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring.

The Return of the King

While the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarmed out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggled deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron’s power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the accursed Ring of Power had to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But the way was impossibly hard, and Frodo was weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring he began finally to despair.

 The reviews I posted on GoodReads were woefully inadequate, so I'm forced to wing it. My appreciation for this trilogy grows every time I read it. The sheer effort Mr. Tolkien put into creating it is evident and astounding. He made up just how many languages and how many cultures and how many histories, again?! Elves, dwarves, hobbits, wizards, men, and all sorts of nasty things like trolls and Ringwraiths and *shiver* Gollum run wild, but they all feel so real. You can feel the struggles and the triumphs and the sorrow of all the characters and you feel bound to them as you read.

I won't lie to you, it does get a bit wordy in places and the exposition outweighs the action at times, but the action springs back and just blew my mind. ROTK in particular was a roller coaster ride for me. I would laugh one minute and start crying the next. 

God, I really do feel stupid trying to write something on something this intelligent and powerful! If I have to sum it up in just one word, I'd have to call it majestic. The movies were amazing, but the books honestly took my breath away. They just can't translate the depth and richness of them entirely to screen, so if you only know the movies, you really are missing something. If nothing else, reading them might get you ready for when The Hobbit comes out this year (which I'm looking forward to, by the way. Martin Freeman is bound to make an excellent Bilbo.)

I know scholars and other people much smarter than me have written essays and whatnot on this, but all I can do is tell you that it is one of the most moving, inspired things I have ever read, and it's distinguished in that it brought tears to my eyes. It seems that's happening more often, lately, but there's still not many books that have provoked that response. Which goes to show that a) Angels is still a tough nut to crack and b) this trilogy is all the more special for having cracked me. 

Your humble book nerd,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Calm Thyself, Angels...

It's been CRAZY this past week! Visiting grandparents, a late Christmas, endless laundry, and a bad case of insomnia are driving me batty! Do you ever wish you had a universal remote for life (like in Click) and you could just hit "pause" for a minute or two?

I'd planned on reviewing The Lord of the Rings and Due Date for my next posts, but darned if I can get the chance to cover anything with something resembling intelligence and thought! I need a break...let's have a party! I'll bring the snacks and the balloons! And here's a tune that usually gets me back on my feet.

Dwight Yoakam - Fast As You

Good night, all, and may your first week of 2012 have gone better than mine is!

Your pal,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reviews From an HBN (Phantom - Susan Kay)

I know, I know, I should be posting a review for whatever book is next on the BBC's list, but I have to cover this one first. I just have to.

In this retelling, Susan Kay gives us the life story of Erik, the tortured genius who became the Phantom of the Opera. From his early years with his mother, to imprisonment in a gypsy camp, to the royal court of Persia, and finally, the Paris Opera House, we get to see the story from several new perspectives.


Here is my review as posted on GoodReads:

 I've met my match. I have never ever ever come across a book, barring this one, that I just couldn't handle reading for extended periods of time. Not because it was bad, but because it was just so darn sad!

I'm a huge fan of Leroux's original novel and I'm always nervous about reading anything to do with Phantom of the Opera (I'm still recovering from The Phantom of Manhattan), but there really wasn't anything to worry about with this one. Susan Kay did a remarkable job of fleshing out Erik's previously shadowy past. Her original characters were well-drawn; I still have mixed feelings about Madeleine and I liked Giovanni almost as much as Nadir. The part that concerned me the most turned out to be the part that most blew me away: Erik's characterization. It wasn't overdone or understated, it was just right. The pain, the passion, the was all so Erik I can't find the words to do it justice. It turned me into a sniffling, sobbing wreck!

I do have just one little problem with it, though. From Erik's birth to his taking up residence in the Opera House was told in such detail that when Christine finally arrived on the scene, it seemed to fly by too fast by comparison. I understand that the Erik/Christine/Raoul triangle was covered good and plenty by Leroux so there's no need to go all-out when the book had already gone on so long, but I thought a little more time might have been spent on it. It was the most pivotal, important relationship of Erik's tormented life, and as such it should have been treated with more thought.

And yet I have to hand it to Ms. Kay. She worked me over so well with the last scene at the house on the lake I wanted to tear my hair out in anguish. It was so intense and so electrically charged I couldn't sleep after reading it (which was pretty rough, as I couldn't stop thinking about it, thus furthering the torment). And the last bits from Raoul's perspective were rather touching, which came as a surprise since he seemed like such a minor character up until then.

All in all, a must-read for phans and heck, anyone who needs a good cry. Take the advice I didn't, and keep the tissues handy!

 I know I'm a masochist now, because I'll be rereading this one for sure. Read it yourself if you want, or don't, but you're missing something!

Your humble book nerd,

Artist of the Month - Jan 2012

First post of the new year! Time for a new artist! Which one, which one....

January's featured artist and the first artist of 2012 is...

*drum roll*

The Corrs

Another bunch of siblings that rock my socks off! (Did you know they considered going by the name of Cosmic Egg?!) They are Andrea, lead vocals and tin whistle; Sharon, violin, vocals; Caroline, drums, piano, vocals; and Jim, guitar, piano, vocals. They've been going since the nineties, and two of the bunch have since gone off on solo careers, but I prefer to hear them all together. They've got one of the best blends of Celtic and alternative I've come across, and their collaborations always blow me away.

I'm so attached to Fleetwood Mac's original I never thought a cover could stack up, but I'm really impressed with this one!

Toss the Feathers
Erin Shore
Old Hag
When the Stars Go Blue (with Bono)

Happy listening, and happy new year! Hope it's a good one for all of you! *throws confetti*

Your pal,