Monday, September 29, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #7: Belle

Okay, so Beauty and the Beast isn't my favorite Disney movie. I'm actually a little afraid to admit my favorite Disney movie in public. XD
I just have a few little issues, like the fact that Belle is kind of a snob, and seriously? Nobody discovered that gigantic castle just sitting there? What exactly is the beast 'prince' of?
But I also really like it because it has great music, brilliant animation, and aside from the whole snob thing, Belle is very cool. She likes reading, she respects and loves her father, she stands up for herself, and I find her relatable. Especially since I'm a snob myself. ;) At least when it comes to books.
Ahem. Sorry, didn't mean to rant, but I'm super-muy under the weather today, so I gave myself a rant license! Mwahahaha, cower in fear, mortals!
Ahem. Again.
So! 'Belle' is a very strong opening number, and I think that it sets pretty much everything up perfectly! One of the best opening songs to a musical, in my opinion. :)

Oh, isn't this amazing?
It's my favorite part because you'll see!
Here's where she meets Prince Charming
But she won't discover that it's him 'till Chapter Three!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Meme!

1. Favourite childhood book?
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I love that book!

2. What are you reading right now?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Two completely different books, I know!

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None, to be honest. :P

4. Bad book habit?
If there's a line or section I really like then I dogear or underline. But Never with a nice or new copy of a book.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Pygmalion, the play that the musical My Fair Lady is based on. :) I got it for my sister from the campus library.
6. Do you have an e-reader?

I have a kindle app on my computer, but I prefer reading real books. They smell nice (new books and old books both have distinctive smells, I find), they feel great in your hands, and it just feels 'right' to me. :)

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I'm able to read several books at once, unless I'm reading something very heavy, or intensive. Then I'd just rather concentrate on that one book.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not really. But I did find several good titles by reading other people's blogs! Like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Toilers of the Sea.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Meh.

10. Favourite book you've read this year (so far?)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens! I know it's probably really old and stuffy material, but for whatever reason it just clicked with me and I really like it. :)

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I don't know. Not that often probably, because my comfort zone consists of books that I know I will most likely enjoy, and I don't like wasting time on books I won't like.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I read a lot of classics, so I suppose those are the books I feel most comfortable with. Basically anything that isn't Young Adult literature or (certain kinds of) Sci Fi is fine with me! XD

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yeah. I don't ride the bus that often, but I can read in the car without getting sick.

14. Favourite place to read?
I like to read in our garage lying down on the couch with both doors open and air circulating in... sigh... it's so pleasant.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'd just like it back in as good condition as it was when I lent it. Wrinkled up on the spine and covers is fine, but if it comes back seriously trashed or damaged I'll probably feel a little angryful.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Yes. Before you decide that I'm evil, hear me out. I don't dog-ear nice copies of books, or new copies of books. I did dog-ear the living daylights out of my battered copy of Les Miserables the first time I read it though. So many good lines and thoughts to keep track of!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Only if it's something I have been told to take notes on. Or if it's a super lousy book (like The Near Witch) I'll write riffs and quips in the margins that mock the book. XD

18. Not even with text books?
I write in text book margins, except for my French one, that's on loan. :P

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
Pffft, English! I know a smidgen of French and Japanese, but not well enough to read whole novels. Wish I could though. :P

20. What makes you love a book?
Here's the list!
- A hero who does the right thing, but still has flaws
- Nice imagery and writing
- Really good ending lines!
- Interesting characters who feel real
- Vivid settings
- Interesting philosophical themes
- Books that provide Thought-Fodder!

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I don't really reccomend books to my friends and family. Parly because I'm afraid of coming off as naggy, but also because I'm afraid of them reading the book, hating it, and thinking that I have bad taste in books. But I suppose the critera can be found in the previous question...

22. Favourite genres?
Classic Literature, but specifically drama like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Victor Hugo. I also really like 'spooky' books, like Odd Thomas or Coraline. And Fantasy. Not really a sword and sorcery person, but Fantasy in general I find very appealing. :)

23. Genres you rarely read (but wish you did?)
I don't know, if I see a book that I like I usually make an effort to grab it, but maybe historical fiction? Mysteries too. I wish I could find our copy of the complete Sherlock Holmes, I read A Study in Scarlet and it was great!

24. Favourite biography?
Ummm..... Pass. I don't really read biographies.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
What the deuce are self-help books?

26. Favourite cookbook?
We have a cookbook that's just chocolate recipes, I used to actually carry that one around with me when I was a preteen. XD

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Divine Romance by Fulton J. Sheen. :)

28. Favourite reading snack?
I don't usually eat when I read (book balancing issues, you know) but I usually read while I'm eating breakfast. So, cereal.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I don't know! I haven't read that many uber-hyped books. Well, I was pretty sick of the Hunger Games before I even cracked the spine on that one.

29. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Eh, 50/50. There are some books I love that critics hate, and other ones that they love. So I don't know if they're wrong, or me. XD

30. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think they're fun to write! Mwahaha! No regrets here! Unless it's a book that somebody reccomended to me. In that case, I wouldn't even write a review, just quietly pretend that I never read it.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Japanese or French!

34. The most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. I hear it's really good, but.... I'm scared. XD

35. Favourite Poet?
I don't read a whole lot of poetry, it depresses me because I can't write that well. :P

38. Favourite fictional character?
SO MANY! Um, here's the list. :)
- Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities)
-Atticus Finch and Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird)
- Jean Valjean, The Bishop, Eponine (Les Miserables)
- Despereaux (The Tale of Despereaux)
- Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley (Emma)
- Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)
- Mr. Jarndyce (Bleak House)
- Gandalf and Sam Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings)
- Alexei 'Alyosha' Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov)
-Elinor & Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility)

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Again. So many. XD And a lot of these guys aren't really pure evil.
- He's not evil, but he is in the way of the hero, so I guess he belongs here. Javert (Les Miserables)
- Madame Defarge (A Tale of Two Cities)
- Smeagol (The Lord of the Rings)
- Roscuro (The Tale of Despereaux

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on holiday?
Um, whatever I happen to be reading at the moment.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
I haven't kept track. :)

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Wuthering Heights. Ugh, that book is TURGID!! I wish I could find somebody who likes it and ask them what they see in it!

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
The TV.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
I really like Sense and Sensibility (1995)!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Eh, the 1980 A Tale of Two Cities TV movie. It was wrong on so many little levels that I just didn't like it that much. I prefer the cheesy one from 1989. I mean, that one wasn't perfect, but at least we had a blast watching it! XD

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
35 bucks for a piano textbook. ._.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I sometimes check out the first chapter, but a lot of the time I go into books 'blind', as it were.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
A turgid pace that doens't take the book anywhere, characters who don't make sense, and heroines who the author keeps claiming are 'special', while they're really just like every other generic heroine out there. Oh, and teen romance. And by teen romance, I don't mean the common situation in older books where people got married at 17. I mean teenagers slurping each other and going on and on about how different they are from everyone else. Ugh.

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
Yeah, but I haven't got them very organized at the moment. See, I don't have a bookshelf, so my rather large collection is somewhat scattered around my room. :P

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
Wha? I keep my books, because (a) I like just opening to a favorite part and reading (b) A book I really like is kind of like a friend. Call me selfish or hording, but I wouldn't really want to give it away unless I had multiple copies.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
I don't know. I hardly ever read outside of my comfort zone, because I'm lame like that. Well, I thought To Kill a Mockingbird would be dry and preachy, like most 'important books'. But it was actually a very moving story and one of my favorite books. :)

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
Emily of New Moon. Grrr, I hate that book. Didn't even finish it.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Odd Thomas! Pretty much any Dean Koontz, really. :)

Gotta go! Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 22, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #6: Beauty and the Beast

I don't know if Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, but it certainly has some really good music!
This song is of course, very iconic, and for good reason. Angela Lansbury does a terrific job singing it, the lyrics are moving, and the orchestrations are beautiful! And it's very sweet the way Beast's confidence grows during the song. :)
And I know that it's not related to the music at all, but just LOOK at that eye-poppingly awesome animation!

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange,
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong.
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo [1869] Video Review! :D

Hello guys! I did a video review of something. :)

I hope you guys like it, tell me if there are any other books you'd like me to video rant about. :D Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities Chibis

I drew these guys a long time ago, but then I lost the sheet of paper they were on and never found it again. Very tragic. So I gave up looking and drew them again, with a few improvements. And dang! Late 1700's fashion is really hard to draw, especially those weird little stocking things that men wore.
Charles Darnay: I actually based his outfit off of what Sydney is wearing on the cover of my copy of the book, and since they swapped jackets at the drugging part, I figured that I should draw Charles in the blue jacket instead. And the yellow shirt... just because for whatever reason I really like light blue/pale yellow as a color combination. It looks kind of sunset-y. :)
Lucie Manette: I tried to make her outfit as accurate as possible. From what I've seen of 1700's fashion is that a lot of ladies dresses would have a v-shaped panel in the front made of some kind of lacy material. Not 100% sure though. But it's a chibi, so who cares if the fashion is accurate. At least she's not in jeans.
Sydney Carton: Sydney is sad because I drew him with a bottle of wine, thus enabling his alcoholism. Ahem, in every adaptation I've seen, Sydney traipses around in a heavy, black trenchcoat that's like his de facto outfit. So I kind of stole that. Hm. I'm not so good at designing outfits. Even Lucie's dress is inspired by the musical's album cover. :P
Monsieur Manette: [sigh] My siblings hate Monsieur Manette because he cursed the family of Evremonde, including little toddler Charles. Hence, they think that Monsieur Manette is evil.
Miss Pross: Miss Pross is awesome. She's one of the coolest old ladies in all fiction. Ahem, I'm not sure why I drew her in pink, but I think that the mob cap is accurate.
Mr. Lorry: I drew him with his little brown wig that the book keeps bringing up. Aside from that, I don't know how to draw the barrister outfit. :P
Madame Defarge: Howabout that crazy hat? It's so big! I also went overboard with her little accessories. But overall, I'm quite happy with this one. :D
Monsieur Defarge: Shoot! I knew I forgot something... those stains on his apron were supposed to be wine stains, but I used the wrong color.
The Marquis: "MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!" I tried to make him look a little bit like Charles (Family resemblance and all, y'know), but YIKES! That mouth.

Monday, September 15, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #5: At The End of The Day

From Les Miserables. Call me generic if you will, but it's my favorite musical and I don't really care if people think that I just like it because it's popular. ;)
Anyway, this song takes place about eight years after the events of the prologue, and dang are these peasants angry!
I love the massive four note repeating introduction, then the angry strings, finally settling down into one heck of an awesome chorus piece. It always sends shivers down my spine, and it was really cool when we got to see it live. :) It's not a really pleasant song, but it's got that simmering anger that is constantly just on the surface of the story, and it sounds really neat.
I don't know why the picture is of Marius and Cosette. O.o

At the end of the day you're another day older
And that's all you can say for the life of the poor
It's a struggle, it's a war
and there's nothing that anyone's giving
All the day standing about,
What is it for? One day less to be living.
At the end of the day you're another day colder
And the shirt on your back doesn't keep out the chill
And the righteous going past,
They don't hear the little ones crying
And the plague is coming on fast
Ready to kill. One day nearer to dying.
At the end of the day it's another day dawning
And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise
Like the waves crash on the sand
Like a storm that'll break any second
There's a hunger in the land
There's a reckoning still to be reckoned
And there's going to be hell to pay
At the end of the day.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky [1880]

"You know boys," Alyosha said, "You needn't be afraid of life! Life is so good when you do something that is good and just."

Whew! What a crazy book! And I mean that in the best possible way, because I really enjoyed it. While not fast paced, The Brothers Karamazov is hardly ever boring, and there's kind of a subtle tension carried throughout the book. The characters are also very interesting and complicated.
That having been said, I wouldn't say that this book is perfect.
My first and foremost problem with the book isn't really the author's fault. I found the ending, while satisfying and very moving, a little open-ended. Fyodor Dostoevsky was planning on this book being the first in a trilogy about the youngest Karamazov brother, Alyosha (poor Alyosha). Unfortunately, he died before he could even start the second one. So it's not really his fault that some aspects of the book are left open ended.

Also, this book is full of rambling. The characters in this book love to talk. This is mostly fine because most of the time it's very interesting. But there are a few instances where it just got plain redundant. Like the chapter The Grand Inquisitor. That's the most famous chapter of the novel, but I found it turgid and rather [dare I tick off the literature professors?] a hinder to the flow of the story.. Ivan (poor Ivan) is not much of a poet, that's for sure. And there's the Prosecutor's speech in the courtroom. My main issues with the courtroom sequence was that most of the stuff being discussed was stuff we had already heard being discussed before.

Aside from all that, I really liked it! It's not really a fun book though. I mean, even Les Miserables had plenty of moments of brevity and light heartedness. This book is pretty much doom and gloom except for a few scenes with Elder Zosima (Think Russian Bishop Myriel) and the very end. It kind of got to be too much at times. I would recommend having something easy and lighthearted handy if you want to read this.

I was a little surprised by some of the characters, and by that I mean I was surprised by Alyosha. Alyosha (that's short for Alexei) is the youngest Karamazov brother and is a novice at the local Monastery. In the little chapter about little kid Alyosha, I kind of pegged him for being one of those bland, pure hearted heroes who never does anything wrong or has moments of doubt (Think Despereaux from the atrocious Tale of Despereaux movie adaptation). But he surprised me by being an interesting character with a good story arc. He's very saintly and kind, but it's pulled off in a good way. The other brothers are also very interesting and their story arcs don't go where you expect them to from the beginning. Except Smerdyakov, he's kind of exactly who he looks like. I liked Dmitry (or 'Mitya'), he was quite complicated and, despite his many faults, was a likeable character. Ivan was probably the most complicated character, and even though he wasn't a terribly likeable person I still felt a little bad for him in the end. I haven't even started to cover all the other characters in the book, but they were pretty cool. I liked Gregory, the Karamazov's housekeeper.

The Verdict: A
It took me a super long time to get this review off the ground! I guess I could blame that on my French homework (Oui! Je suis une etudiante a l'universite! Ma prof est tres sympa. :). The thing is, I don't really know why I like this book so much, but it clicked with me for whatever reason. And the reasons why a book clicks with you aren't always easy to explain. I really enjoyed seeing the various character's story arcs unfolding, and even being totally surprised by a few of them (Alyosha, Ivan, and Grushenka really surprised me with how they developed). This book made me think, and I love reading books that I sometimes have to put down and think about for a while. And the ending was very hopeful and optimistic. I may not be an optimistic person myself, but I appreciate true optimism (as opposed to just being fluffy and blind to evil) in stories.

Age Appropriateness: There is some language in this book. None of it is seriously bad (though there is one instance of something really nasty being implied but not actually spoken), but it might bug some people. There are also some rather disturbing scenes and subject matter, just a heads up.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Defence of Mansfield Park [1814] & Review

Mansfield Park, aside from Northanger Abbey, is probably the least appreciated of all Jane Austen's works. And you know, I can see why that is. Fanny is introverted and shy, and the love interest, Edmund Bertram is maybe a little on the bland side. It's also a good deal more serious than Austen's more popular works, like Emma or Pride and Prejudice. But Mansfield Park is a very good book in it's own right! It's probably not the 'best' Jane Austen book, but hey! Jane Austen books are kind of relative, and I think that people like the ones that speak to them. I personally don't care for Pride and Prejudice, but I loved Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Which one is the best one just depends on who you are and what you're looking for in a book. But yikes, holy diversion, Batman!
Ahem, let's tackle some of the reasons why Mansfield Park is commonly regarded as the least-good Jane Austen book, and refute them!

Fanny Price
Unfortunately, Fanny is usually the number one reason people don't like this book. She's shy and doesn't express her feelings very often, because she doesn't want to offend anybody or make herself seem more important than she thinks she is. She isn't a vibrant and passionate Marianne Dashwood, and she isn't an energetic and witty Emma Woodhouse. But in the vast and wonderful world of literature, there is room for ALL sorts of fictional characters, not just the funny and outspoken ones.
Fanny isn't a heroine who goes with the flow. Mansfield Park is an unusual story in that it is more about staying still than moving quickly. And imagine how hard it is to stay still when everyone else is moving around you! That's how Fanny feels in the story. All around her are people who aren't acting the way they should, and Fanny is trying to be steadfast in the midst of all that confusion.
And because she is usually so timid and afraid of offending people, the occasions where Fanny stands up for herself are all the more satisfying.

What Does Edmund Bertram See In Mary Crawford? Why Doesn't He Love Fanny Right Away?
In all honesty, I think that Edmund Bertram is a little bland. That having been said, I understand why he wanted to marry Miss Crawford. She's pretty, she's intelligent, and she's good humored. Problems arise however, when Mary Crawford is disrespectful of Religion and the Clergy. Why on earth would Edmund put up with that? Both Mary and Edmund thought they could change each other to fit their own needs. Edmund thought that marriage would 'pin' Mary down a bit, and Mary just figured that Edmund was being kind of old-fashioned.
Edmund also had no idea that Fanny loved him. Remember, Fanny doesn't like to be open with her feelings. If the book were told from Edmund's point of view, we'd probably see him be very surprised when he at last discovers that Fanny loves him!

It's Just Not as Delightful or Fun as The Others
Remember what I said about there being room for all different kinds of fictional characters? Well, the same applies with stories, too! Not all stories can be funny and delightful. Some stories are just going to be more serious in tone than others. Of course, there is no one book in literature that EVERYBODY has to like. Everyone has different tastes, so not everyone will like every book. By writing this little review/rant, I hope that I cleared up a little bit of haze and if you didn't like the book, I hope that I at least inspired you to read it again someday. But I am by no means suggesting that we all fall down and worship Mansfield Park. Cuz' we all know that Emma is the best Austen novel. ;) Kidding, kidding, that's just my opinon. :D

The Verdict: B+
I don't know if I would consider this one of my favorite books, but I definitely liked it. :) It was very sweet and moving at times, and even though it wasn't really lighthearted, there were still many moments where the good ol' Austen snark showed through.

Monday, September 8, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #4: Arabian Nights

From Aladdin. :)
Probably the least politically correct song on this list. XD
But really, this song is hilarious! I personally prefer the Broadway version with it's more comedic lyrics, but the Movie version also makes for a really cool opening!

And here's the Broadway one. :)

Oh I come from a land,
from a faraway place where the caravan camels roam.
Where it's hot and immense and the heat is intense
It's barbaric, but hey! It's home.
When the wind's in the east and the sun's in the west
and the sand in the glass is right
Come on down, stop on by
Hop a carpet and fly to another Arabian Night!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Storage Room: Rene's Hat

Based on a graphic true story. Just kidding. About the graphic part that is. The incident itself actually did happen in real life. I wore my kicky hat to orchestra and my conductor told me to take it off. Hence, the beginnings of this comic were set. :)

Rene plays Viola because it's such an underrated instrument. I'd learn it, but I already play flute and a few others, and the last time I tried to learn a string instrument (violin) it was horrible. ._.

Monday, September 1, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #3: All I Ask of You

From The Phantom of the Opera, which is my sister's Very Favorite musical, so we've been listening to it a bit lately.
I don't consider myself a romantic (at least not a very big one), but this might just be one of my favorite love duets. Evah. The music and orchestration is absolutely gorgeous and the Light/Day/Morning based lyrics that Raoul sings are in stark contrast to the Darkness/Nighttime based lyrics that the Phantom uses in his songs. Very interesting. And it's so dang sweet!

Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime
Let me lead you from your solitude
Say you need me with you here beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go too.
Christine, that's all I ask of you.