Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reviews From an HBN (Outlander - Diana Gabaldon)

What's happened to me?! I'm the consummate fantasy nerd, reading this, of all things!

To be fair, though, this has some fantasy elements to it...

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


 So I finally broke down and decided to read Outlander, then I finally got lucky enough to spot it on a shelf at Goodwill. Then I enjoyed it enough to read it twice in a row.

Let me start with what turned me off, as that's a shorter list. Time travel stories aren't really my thing (unless there happens to be a Time-Turner involved), and it seems Diana Gabaldon has an even more chaotic approach than usual in her rationalization of the whens and the whys and the what-times. The detail I'm picking on is that, Claire's marriage to Jamie is valid because her marriage to Frank is technically still two hundred years into the future, but if all time runs side-by-side (and I'm assuming that's what she's getting at, what with Claire going on about how she's been gone from 1945 for such and such amount of time) then that means she's still married to Frank and her marriage to Jamie isn't legal after all...maybe the Doctor can figure this one out for me, because I'm confused.

And...over eight hundred pages? I'm torn here, because my instincts as a writer say that this thing could have been heaps and bunches shorter by cutting out anything and everything that did nothing to further the plot. But then, I get all mixed up because this doesn't really have a plot, per se. And on top of it all, my sensibilities as a reader wouldn't hear of cutting anything out, because I liked it all. I spent half the book in titters at all the humor, the last quarter in near-tears because of the turn of events, and all the rest of it racing as fast as I could onto the next page because I was dying to know what was coming.

Claire had her moments of being just that irritating, but what can I say? She dropped the F-bomb in front of a total stranger within the first few pages and later cussed a man out for daring to get himself injured on her watch. She was bound to win me over eventually. She's kind of like one of those people you're not really sure why you're friends with, but you can't imagine not being friends with them anyway.

And then there's James Fraser...dear God and Jesus at Olive Garden, I've become one of those females that swooned after him the instant he arrived on the scene. It's easy to consider him the stereotypical romantic hero, but he really isn't. Which gives me cause for relief, to be honest, or I'd lose all my self-respect entirely. He's mainly responsible for all the aforementioned humor, and most of it is my favorite kind of bawdy, raunchy humor, God bless him. And that sentiment goes double for his genuine love and affection for Claire, and just for being so bloody amazing. The best part? He's flawed! He's realistic! He's the perfect guy, and he's not even perfect!

Someone stop me, I'm going in circles...

The sex, once it started happening, felt like it hardly stopped happening. But Ms. Gabaldon handled it in a way that it wasn't just Jamie and Claire doing it for the sake of it, but achieved some kind of growth through it. It felt like they were actually coming closer together, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically, so points for that. And for keeping the dialogue interesting! It was never even too explicit for all that they were constantly hopping into bed or hiding in a convenient stand of trees or haystack, and that spells accomplishment to me! I do, however, have to ask if the whole episode with Jonathan Randall at Wentworth prison is really felt like one of those things that didn't really do much for the plot and it was almost overdone, but I'll live with it. It gives Randall complexity as a villain, which is always a good thing.

Speaking of Randall, that didn't quite impress me, either, making him a counterpart of Frank. I get it, it adds to the emotional train wreck for Claire to be confronted with her beloved husband's doppelganger only for him to turn out a sadist, was too easy! What better way to make her turn to Jamie than to make Frank somehow seem less appealing by extension?

And did I happen to mention that Jamie is so awesome? I did? OK then, moving on...

I can see the haters' point about where this book is lacking, but I can also pose an argument in defense of it. So I guess that means I'm a fan, then, doesn't it? I couldn't help myself! It was exactly the kind of escape I love in a book, no matter what the genre! For crying out loud, I read it again right after I finished it the first time, and that's explanation enough in itself!

Your humble book nerd,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reviews From an HBN (The Opera Ghost Unraveled - Michelle Rodriguez)

You have NO IDEA how pleased I am to be reviewing this one! No. Idea. :D

Before Christine’s father died, he promised to send the Angel of Music. As no more than a voice, her angel appeared, stealing her loneliness and teaching her to sing, but now she has fallen in love with him and wishes he were a man of flesh and bone who could love her in return. Under the guise of angel, Erik tries to find a window into Christine’s life. When being an intangible voice is no longer enough and the Vicomte de Chagny threatens his hold over her heart, truths must be revealed. As the illusion shatters and Christine learns her angel is really the disfigured Opera Ghost with a sin-filled soul, will Erik lose every chance at winning her love and claiming his happy ending? First posted on an online forum, “The Opera Ghost Unraveled” has been read and adored by phans worldwide. It is a passionate variation of the original beloved story and shows the power of love’s transformation. As the omnipotent Opera Ghost “unravels” and exposes the vulnerable soul beneath the scars, love and obsession intertwine as Erik seeks to teach Christine to be brave and follow her heart.


 Finally! I get to review my absolute favorite! Yay!

I'm going to try to avoid reminiscences about the first time I read this...back when it was posted online, and the wonderful suspense of waiting for the next chapter...but if I venture down memory lane on occasion, forgive me. Overall, it's even more wonderful to just sit down with the book and read and read and read some more, then turn around and re-read it all again the instant you come to the last page. Which I did!

So, moving on...simply put, this is my favorite retelling of The Phantom of the Opera I've read. Period. The love Michelle Rodriguez has for the story and the characters is undeniable, as is her spot-on skills for putting the reader right there with them and making them feel every emotion and then some. She pays tribute to both the Leroux and Webber versions, and also makes the story her own. Her take on the much-beloved, oft-massacred character of Erik leaves nothing to be desired. He is every bit as arrogant, dangerous, and terrifying as he should be, but also passionate, tender, vulnerable, and just plain Erik in a way most authors never manage to pull off. It's so easy to sacrifice the dark side of his personality in pursuit of an ideal romantic hero (which, let's face it, he isn't), but that never happens here. Erik himself is responsible for the majority of the emotional thrill ride when his rage, pain, love and desire come spilling out; Like I said, you feel every emotion as you read it. In particular, the unmasking scene and the infamous Chapter Eighteen hit me the hardest. All the impact of a punch in the face, and so much feeling that I cried and couldn't stop!

Christine is another tough character to get right. She can come out insipid, co-dependent, idiotic, boring, etc. when not handled carefully. Here, though, she remains in character. She loves the Angel of Music but fears the Opera Ghost, and must reconcile each as mere roles Erik must play before she can truly love him. She must also be strong enough to face what life with him will mean, and she grows as a character with every step. Erik's character arc is fascinating, but Christine's growth into a woman who can be a match for Erik is truly impressive. She begins as a naive young girl, full of fantasies and in love with a heavenly angel. To watch that childishness fall away and blossom into maturity, strength and passion that equals Erik's own is one of the most gratifying things about reading this. Her relationship with Erik, contrasted with her interactions with Raoul, shift and progress from timid/uncertain/passive to confident/assured/assertive. Comparing her first and last scenes with both men drive it home how much loving Erik transforms her, as much as loving her transforms him.

I always appreciate Michelle's treatment of Raoul. There is never any character assassination whatsoever; he is simply the spoiled, self-assured, stubborn boy he is in Leroux. He honestly loves Christine, and tries to act in her best interests, but...he has listening problems and he just won't leave well enough alone! He has his moments of being sweet and charming, but there's always that trait that's so visible in the novel: He refuses to understand what he doesn't comprehend. He is the moral compass of the story and the voice of reason, but he is blinded by his own love and prejudice to see where Christine's heart lies. And again, that infamous Chapter Eighteen...damn you, Raoul! Damn you!

As always, I adore the language and the words themselves. Each character has a definite voice (that remains true to each character...bonus points for that!) and there are so many quotable bits, my favorite still being Meg Giry's "Bright lights distract me! And I sometimes forget to look beyond my own nose!" Adorable! Then from Erik: "...what good is a clean soul in a blemished vessel? Being penitent won't put me one step closer to heaven. Curse salvation! You are my salvation. If you can love me, I'll be sorry." That's just...oh wow.

Looking over my comments posted on each chapter as it went up online, I notice that I refer to Michelle as the Diane Warren of fiction and that I idolize her as much as Robin McKinley, and I still stand behind those words. This is still one of the most beautiful, gorgeously written, kick ass things I've ever read, and that's even outside of Phantom! This was the story that cemented my admiration and respect for Ms. Rodriguez, and I'm so happy to have read it. Even happier that she published it! Brava!

Your humble book nerd,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Angels Sings 5

At least, I think I'm on five at this point...

That Ol' Wind cover

Your pal,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet the Leading Ladies

So, it's Friday, which means I need something Phantom-y, but I need to make it snappy so I can get to bed (I have to get up at the ungodly hour of 5 AM!). Technically, this isn't Phantom, but it's close enough. Thanks to a friend, I've found a new home on and got all kinds of excited when I realized I could cobble together some images of my girls from NaNoWriMo! Allow me to introduce you!

Anna (Maid of Iron)

Vivienne (The Phantom's Phoenix)

Christine (The Phantom of the Chagnys)

Ah, look at them! Exactly as I pictured them, from Anna's sword and the flower in her hair, to Vivienne's bare feet and feisty expression, even down to Christine's hair and nose! (I kept picturing Gina Beck as I wrote her, just to fill you in...)

Your pal,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reviews From an HBN (Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins)

Third and final book of the Hunger Games trilogy

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.


I put this review off for a week, but it's time to get down to business. *cracks knuckles* Where do we start?


Whew, glad I got that out! A book hasn't caused me to suffer so much since Phantom! I was so snagged I couldn't stop, but in so much anguish I couldn't bear to keep going! It's a miracle I made it through alive and intact!

Bad stuff first. Collins was ruthless in concluding her saga and pulled no punches, but there were a few deaths that just felt...well, pointless. I can't name names without giving anything away, but there was one in particular I had to go back and reread a few times before I understood that this character had just died. The whole scene felt wasted to me! Why spend so much time on this person and fleshing them out so well just to have such a lame send-out? Why? If this person had to be killed off for the greater good, then why not make an impression? Make it mean something? Make it hurt, damn it! She hasn't had a problem doing it throughout the series!! And then the small matter of Effie Trinket...I liked Effie so much in the first two books, and then she was only in one scene here! Why bother with it, then? And for the rest of the series to be so well developed (minus the first few chapters of Catching Fire, which felt a bit rushed), the last few chapters of this just...fell flat. It was like Collins realized she had come to her allotted twenty-seven chapters per book and decided she'd better wrap things up as fast as she possibly could, regardless of how coherent and sensible it may or may not end up after all. Ugh! It just felt so unresolved!

And allow me an entire paragraph to lament the whole freaking Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle. What the mother of crap?! All it did for me was remind me of how immature and selfish Katniss really is, despite such a strong start in The Hunger Games. Why does every teen/YA book NEED to have a love triangle? Sure, there are some good ones out there, but it's become an epidemic! And what purpose does this one serve, except to shake Twilight's hold on the whole Team A and Team B thing? Really? In my opinion as a reader, Collins could have gotten more mileage if she had left out Katniss's confusion over Gale (which only cropped out sporadically, when all things are considered) and focused on her conflicted feelings towards Peeta. Why did she give him the berries in the arena, out of love, desperation, or defiance? Is she so self-centered that she only cares about him because he cares about her? Was she really playing her role as star-crossed lover for the cameras, or was it as real for her as it was for him? *sigh* I hope this isn't as murky in the movie...

Now onto the good stuff! Once again, the action is fast-paced, the language is direct, and the story is brutal and powerful. If I have to complain about how Ms. Collins handles some of this one, then I still can't fault her for going after the rest of it as she did. She didn't hold back, and she freaking killed me, I swear she did. I died over two dozen times while reading this, and I read it about two nanoseconds away from tears and tantrums, I was so strung out over it. It was agony, but it was so good! I just...I can't even...holy crap!

Your humble book nerd,

Had to Share This 28

My current inspiration for a little on-the-side project. It's also from one of my favorite albums!

Blood In My Eyes - Bob Dylan

Your pal,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Excerpt #4

All right, all right, I couldn't help myself. I'm just so darn proud of this scene! Here's another little bit from The Phantom's Phoenix, in which Erik and Vivienne have a very special lesson...


My own violin…one I could call mine and mine alone…I caressed the polished body and fingered the scrolled head. It was mine, all mine. It lay snug in the padded lining, along with a bow so new the horsehair was still lily white. "Erik, you didn't," I murmured, already in love with the beautiful little thing.
"Clearly I did, or you wouldn't be fawning over it," he replied. "Now you can't blame an instrument that doesn't know you."
I took it out of the case, feeling the wood smooth as satin beneath my hands. I turned it to admire the whole instrument and saw my face reflected in the gleaming finish. "She's wonderful."
"Of course. A creature this lovely can't possibly be an 'it' and she's too willowy to be a 'he.'"
"How odd, considering she's made of maple and ebony."
"Laugh all you like," I told him, "but she has a life of her own."
"Not yet she doesn't," he said. "She's waiting for someone to come and make her sing like a wild angel. She's still sleeping yet."
I held her out to him. "Then make her sing," I urged. "She would be more than happy to sing for you."
He shook his head. "She's yours," he told me. "She'll sing for you alone. But there's a certain trick to setting her free, you know. You have to find that one most secret part of you that wants more than anything to fly with her. Let go of everything else and hold that wish in your heart; feel it deep inside you, lose yourself within it." He looked me straight in the eye, holding my gaze without effort, both looking at me and as if he could see into my soul. He added, "And above all, you can't be afraid. You can't touch the sky if you're worried about what might happen when your feet leave the ground. You have to just leap and trust that you'll find your wings."
He spoke in hushed and reverent tones, filling me with a sense of awe and divinity, and I longed to know what he meant. "Show me," I said.
He motioned for me to stand and took the violin, setting her down on the sofa. "Close your eyes," he whispered.
My eyes flickered shut and I could sense him all around me, circling me slowly. "It all starts in your blood," he said quietly, stopping so he stood in front of me. "Feel it rushing through you, that current that holds life in its waters. It flows faster and faster…" I felt his hand encircle my wrist and raise it up. "Your pulse quickens…" The touch of his lips against my skin was enough to erase the scar that marked it; I felt the slightest, sweetest tremor down my spine.
"It's in your heart now," he continued, and as he put his hand over it I could feel it pounding desperately. "It echoes in your ears, calling down to your soul and summoning you on to Heaven." He put his other hand on my waist, stroking my side, and I nearly melted into him. "Can you feel it?" he whispered into my ear.
I nodded silently, too entranced to speak. My body wouldn't obey me, heeding instead his every tender word and following where he beckoned me. I fought down another shiver and he said, "Don't resist, Vivienne, or you'll never know how it feels to fly." He now ran his hand along my back, his fingers brushing against the nape of my neck before coming to cradle my head. "It's much more than carnal longing…so much more. It's all that makes you who you are reaching out to become one with something you can't survive without. It's a yearning so profound it seems you just can't contain it a moment longer. It's greater than innocence, more subtle than hope, and more real than lust."
A tear made its way from behind my closed eyes and spilled onto my cheek. I felt lighter than air but chained to the earth, and I wanted to be free so badly that no price was too high. The thirst I felt in my spirit was at once more sustaining and more taxing than anything on earth. It filled me completely, making me tremble and tingle until I thought I might fall apart into nothing. "Erik," I breathed.
He held me to him and rocked me gently. "You really do feel it, don't you?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied. "What do I do with it?"
We stood there for a few more minutes, then he released me. I opened my eyes as he handed me my violin. "You follow it," he told me, "wherever it takes you. Just forget about everything else you know and believe to be true, for in that moment that feeling is truth itself."


The trick was to keep the language as literary and poetic as possible, yet try to make something tangible out of something abstract. What do you think?

Your pal,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Phantom Funnies 7

I hope it's seven, and that I haven't lost count somewhere...anyway, how about some fan vids?

POTO/Tangled trailer


POTO/Mean Girls trailer

POTO - "I Threw It On the Ground"

Aaaaaaaanyhoo......that's that for this week.

Your pal,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bookshelf Tour #3

Ooooh, we've got some good ones this time! And quite a few I haven't read yet! And still more on the shelves I haven't gone over yet!

Bookshelf Tour, Part Three

Your pal,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reviews From an HBN (Ophelia - Lisa M. Klein)

He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting.  Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.

Lisa Klein's Ophelia tells the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her place in the world, and finding the strength to survive.  Sharp and literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its grip until the final, heartrending scene.


My big issue at the moment is trying to categorize this. Is it historical fiction? Is it mystery? Is it teen romance? Then again, it's hard trying to categorize Shakespeare, period, even if it is a retelling.

I've got a weakness for retellings, especially alternate versions of Shakespeare, so when I first saw this one I knew I had to read it. My experience with Hamlet is limited to the Lawrence Olivier film, but having loved that I was eager for more in any way I could get it. This one didn't disappoint me. Ms. Klein has done her work well, so far as I'm concerned. She begins with Ophelia's childhood and quickly establishes her as an interesting heroine, making the character her own. I found her Ophelia to be clever, resourceful, brave, a bit rebellious...a far cry from the Bard's raving, misused young girl. She was more than a match for Hamlet. In fact, he didn't deserve her. He couldn't settle on anything, he was two-faced (there was a nice detail comparing him to the two-faced god Janus), and morally corrupt. She made up her mind and held her course, using her wits and courage to escape the tragedy at Elsinore alive.

The action of Hamlet, once it reaches it, flies by pretty quickly, but I pin that down to Ophelia's minimal involvement in it all. More time is spent on her romance with Hamlet and then her exile from Denmark, and it's the last half of the book that I enjoyed the most. I hate to say much more for fear of giving it away, but it was really good!

I also have to mention Horatio. I don't remember much about him in the movie I watched, but here, he was perfect. The soul of discretion and duty, which doesn't sound all that wonderful, but his quiet manner and his friendship with Ophelia, evolving into his determination to help her flee Elsinore safely, won me over. If anything, I would have liked to see more of him, as he was a much better contender for her heart than Hamlet. *raspberry* Gertrude was almost as great, but I liked her best in her final scene in the book, saying goodbye to Ophelia. I get the sense she would have been a decent mother-in-law, but alas, this is a tragedy, after all. Sadly, my favorite characters didn't appear until the second half of the book--the half I don't want to spoil.

You know, given the scene after Polonius's death, when struck-mad-with-grief Ophelia is talking about various plants and flowers (rosemary for remembrance and pansies for thoughts), it makes perfect sense for her to be made over into an herbalist and healer. I approve!

In fact, I approve of this as a whole! I liked it even better with rereading!

Your humble book nerd,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reviews From an MMB (Beowulf and Grendel)

How long has it been since I reviewed a movie, exactly? ....Let's just say too long and move on...

Copied from
The blood-soaked tale of a Norse warrior's battle against the great and murderous troll, Grendel. Heads will roll. Out of allegiance to the King Hrothgar, the much respected Lord of the Danes, Beowulf leads a troop of warriors across the sea to rid a village of the marauding monster. The monster, Grendel, is not a creature of mythic powers, but one of flesh and blood - immense flesh and raging blood, driven by a vengeance from being wronged, while Beowulf, a victorious soldier in his own right, has become increasingly troubled by the hero-myth rising up around his exploits. Beowulf's willingness to kill on behalf of Hrothgar wavers when it becomes clear that the King is more responsible for the troll's rampages than was first apparent. As a soldier, Beowulf is unaccustomed to hesitating. His relationship with the mesmerizing witch, Selma, creates deeper confusion. Swinging his sword at a great, stinking beast is no longer such a simple act. The story is set in barbarous Northern Europe where the reign of the many-gods is giving way to one - the southern invader, Christ. Beowulf is a man caught between sides in this great shift, his simple code transforming and falling apart before his eyes. Vengeance, loyalty and mercy powerfully entwine. A story of blood and beer and sweat, which strips away the mask of the hero-myth, leaving a raw and tangled tale.

Ah, so much easier than my having to sum it up for you...anyway...

I studied Beowulf, the poem, in high school, and if I may state the obvious, this isn't how I remember it. As with all things, this had some good points, and it had some bad points. It offered an alternative view on Grendel and his motivations as well as Beowulf and his morals, and some food for thought on how we as humans view good and bad, right and wrong, justice and vengeance. It also moved a bit slowly at times and had a few details that felt awkward, i.e. a lot of swearing and modern speech mixed in with old-world language. Yeah, little jarring at times. I had to translate half the dialogue for my mother and brother, and could only speculate with them as to why the other half was so, well, modern.

The easiest way I can think of to describe this one was something of a conglomeration of The Phantom of the Opera and 300. No, really. There are elements of both at play here. Grendel is dubbed evil by virtue of being different, and Beowulf is bound to destroy him in defense of kith and kin. To be honest, I was expecting more mindless action and less moral dilemma. It was a pleasant surprise, apart from a few slow spots.

Now, onto the actors. It would be easy to say that Ingvar E. Sigurdsson as Grendel had it easy. I mean, his character is quite literally a troll. There was a lot of grunting and yelling on his part, but the remarkable thing about it was that you could still tell exactly what was going on in Grendel's mind. He was intelligent, sympathetic, and had a surprising code of honor. I was pretty impressed with him. Stellan Skarsgård as King Hrothgar...not sure about this one. After the first OMG! It's Bootstrap Bill! moment, I was unfazed. He was responsible for eighty percent of the out-of-place swearing that made no sense in the setting, and even apart from that he didn't do much for me. An old man under attack from a seemingly invincible foe he doesn't understand and can't rid himself of should at least inspire pity, but it was only when everything was over and done with that I felt anything for him. In fact, I can give you the exact scene: after Grendel is killed (sorry if I spoiled it, but that's how the story goes), Hrothgar and Beowulf are drinking and laughing with themselves, and Hrothgar finally stops laughing and just breaks down, relieved that his ordeal is over, exhausted by said ordeal, and remorseful over his role in it all. I'm not made of stone, and that one got me.

I'm not very familiar with Sarah Polley (as I barely paid attention to the last twenty minutes I saw of Splice and didn't give her a thought), but Selma the witch grew on me, and I still can't pin down why. It might be in her attitude...she's sarcastic and sassy, she can't seem to give a straight answer, and she generally leaves Beowulf to figure things out on his own, occasionally giving next-to-useless hints and outright mocking him. She's not exactly devil-may-care, but she's pretty close. And then there's Gerard Butler...his Beowulf starts out confident in himself and his mission, but as things progress he's stuck with no clue as to what's the truth and who the bad guy really is, and he comes to question everything and everyone. There's an evident and believable character arc for him (and less shouting than in 300) and while he's still sworn to kill Grendel, he no longer sees it as a matter of honor but something merely necessary that has to be done.

Another element in the story is religion. As word gets out of Hrothgar's plight, in ventures an Irish priest bringing the gospel to the pagan Danes and offering salvation for all. As Beowulf points out, however, there is no way of knowing how many of the converts were sincere in their newfound faith, or if they do it merely in fear for their lives. That seems to be a theme here: shaken faith. The Danes turn from their gods who don't protect them. Hrothgar turns from the truth of Grendel and his own part in the drama. Beowulf turns from his own sense of duty, fulfilling his vow because he must and taking no pride in his actions.

Overall, certainly not a waste of my time and money (though that scene with the fisherman in the beginning was definitely expendable), and I got a laugh when my brother was able to point out the modern tread on supposedly medieval footgear. I'm sure someone else can pick it apart in greater detail, but I basically enjoyed it, which is good enough for me.

Your modest movie buff,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Angels Takes On Audrey

And we all know who wins, don't we?

Moon River cover

I consider it more of a tribute than a contest, and not just because I'm sure I would lose!

Your pal,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Michelle Sings "Wishing"

Behold! Phantom Fridays return!

One of my favorite authors and a friend of mine, Michelle Gliottoni-Rodriguez (new to the blog? Remember the name, I use it a lot) gave a concert in July to promote her published works (haven't read them? Do so! I have reviews for you on the Bookshelf!), and being an opera singer and enormous Phantom fan, one of the songs she sang was "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from the musical. Friend Di was good enough to tape it and post it to YouTube so we all can enjoy it!

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - Michelle Gliottoni-Rodriguez

Your pal,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Artist of the Month - Jan 2013

Here we go! Time for the first one of the new year!

*drum roll*

Lindsey Stirling

The Hip Hop Violinist herself! My fellow Americans might recognize her from the 2010 season of America's Got Talent, but my international audience may not be familiar with her. I first heard of her via her Phantom of the Opera medley, which I later posted on this blog, but I became a fan after hearing and seeing more of her work. She was voted off AGT, and the judges told her she was unmarketable and couldn't fill a theater in Vegas doing what she does...yet YouTube announced last month that the video for her song "Crystallize" was the # 8 top-viewed video of 2012. Ha-HA! She uses hip hop and dubstep in her own composing, but also has some awesome collaborations and covers. She recently went on tour in the US and released her first album (which I'm going to have to download ASAP!) She currently has over 1.2 million subscribers to her YouTube channel (and you're talking to one of them). And she has recently announced a possible European tour. You go, girl!

Song of the Caged Bird
My personal favorite of her original pieces.

Assassin's Creed III cover
Moon Trance
Game of Thrones cover with Peter Hollens
Phantom of the Opera medley

Happy listening!

Your pal,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 In Review

So, because I figured so many fascinating things have gone on around here this year *pause for hysterical laughter* I thought I might amuse myself by going over 2012's highlights. Let's just see how ridiculous things got, shall we?

Artist of the Month: the Corrs 
reviews for Phantom by Susan Kay and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Angels already needs a pick-me-up...
...but she still has time for her favorite song ever

No artist this month...oops.
review for The Phantom of the Opera (Claude Rains version) 
We establish that Angels is a motley hybrid

Artist of the Month: David Garrett (which was posted the last day of February, incidentally...)
review for Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and a chat about favorite re-reads
Angels nearly has a heart attack after discovering the Phantom of the Opera YouTube channel...
...hashes out AC/DC on violins...
...celebrates completing her fourth novel with some special music...
...and cracks up over stand up comedy and drunk Canadians

Artist of the Month: Emmy Rossum 
reviews for the Harry Potter series by J.K. RowlingThe Devil's Galley by Michelle Rodriguez, and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Angels tries to find a winner...
...shares Def Leppard, Styx, Alvin and the Chipmunks and another playlist...
...tells some jokes... a lecture on character development...
...tries to find courage and has a revelation...
...and passes on some Phantom hilarity

Artist of the Month: John Owen-Jones 
Character of the Month introductory post: Elinor Dashwood 
reviews for The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Due Date and The Phantom of the Opera (Robert Englund version)
Angels hates herself but loves violins, her mom, Rod Stewart and more playlists...
...tells another joke...
...feels overwhelmed...
...gets inspired by a sloth...
...implements Phantom Fridays...
...begins the Gargantuan Novel Re-Write...
...which is a lot trickier than she realized...
...finds goofy pictures...
...goes to war...
...does the hula...
...pits Michael Jackson against David Cook...
...wants to go to the movies...
...really bad...
...goes past the point of no return...
...shaves a llama...
...makes her YouTube debut...
...has the roadhouse blues...
...and has her breath taken away

Artist of the Month: the Beatles 
Character of the Month: Erik 
reviews for The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ten Things I Wish I'd Known--Before I Went Out Into the Real World by Maria Shriver, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, It by Stephen King, If You Ask Me by Betty White, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, The Phantom of the Opera (Gerard Butler version) and Love Never Dies
Angels dreams of angels and Ewan McGregor...
...doesn't use maps... Vertical Horizon and Gary Allan duke it out...
...tells yet another joke...
...takes some pictures...
...idolizes Gina Beck...
...has fun with Phantom captions...
...throws a birthday bash...
...drools over the Cape Twirl of DOOOOOOM!...
...tries to keep calm...
...asks why is the rum gone?...
...and ships Erik and Raoul

Artist of the Month: Carlene Carter 
Character of the Month: Éowyn of Rohan 
reviews for Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind, Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold by Terry Brooks, The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth and Eden's Root by Rachel Fisher
Angels learns the true meaning behind "Down Once More"...
...shares The Phantom of the Opera in 15 Minutes...
...confesses to being an addict...
...ships Erik and Christine...
...mixes coffee with Red Bull...
...gets burned...
...and tours her own bookshelf

Artist of the Month: Hadley Fraser 
reviews for The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks, Wizard At Large by Terry Brooks, The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Witches' Brew by Terry Brooks and Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
Angels compares the Phantoms...
...tears down walls...
...feels shameless...
...stays alive...
...visits Her Majesty's and the Majestic...
...enjoys random editing...
...trots out an old favorite...
...idolizes Michelle Gliottoni-Rodriguez...
...tells a stupid nun joke...
...and listens to DarthxErik's monologue

Artist of the Month: Daughtry 
Character of the Month: Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny 
reviews for Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind, Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Angels feels goofy...
...shares Frollo's solos...
...and some SYTYCD favorites...
...and some Phantom fan fiction...
...and some Phantom on the violin...
...and some more of her own books...
...and some more of her own singing...
...and some whistling

Artist of the Month: Danny Elfman 
review for Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul by Michelle Rodriguez
Angels actually listens to Eminem... POTO on SNL... a superhero...
...goes to the Classical Brit Awards...
...makes a very important reblog...
...and marvels over Donna and the Doctor

No artist this month--it's NaNoWriMo!
reviews for First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Angels passes on a lullaby...
...and phan art
Maid of Iron chapter one...
...and excerpt
The Phantom's Phoenix chapter one...
...and excerpt
The Phantom of the Chagnys chapter one...
...and excerpt

Artist of the Month: Bon Jovi 
reviews for The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory, Mr. Darcy, Vampire by Amanda Grange, The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
Angels tells more jokes...
...survives the apocalypse...
...recaps her 2012 reading challenge...
...and chooses one for 2013

Whew! Interesting year! Here's hoping that this year is even better!

Your pal,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Blog Party

I know, I know, all I mean by party is just posting music...but still, happy 2013! Take that, stupid Mayans! I'm planning on doing several posts this week, like 2012 in review, more of my own singing, another bookshelf tour, and of course the artist of the month, but it's almost 4 AM right now, and I'm beat! But I'm still not leaving until I finish getting my new year on my way, so here we go!

Beautiful Day - U2

Burn It to the Ground - Nickelback

Galway Girl - Steve Earle


 Auld Lang Syne - Dougie MacLean
Come on, now, you didn't think I was leaving this one out, did you?

Good night! Have a blessed year!

Your pal,