Video Review: Anne of the Island

I’ve been rereading the Anne of Green Gables series by my favorite author, L. M. Montgomery.  Today I have a video review of Book Three, Anne of the Island.

This volume follows Anne to college, with new romance and a new character I especially enjoy.  I think it’s an improvement on the second book of the series, and definitely well-worth reading.

Video Review: Love Never Dies

Accompaniment, the next book in my Guardian of the Opera trilogy, will be out in less than two weeks!  It’s put me in a Phantom mood, so I rewatched Webber’s sequel: Love Never Dies.

I first saw this movie (filmed play, actually) as a Fathom event in theaters eight years ago.  It wasn’t good, for many reasons.  I didn’t really expect it to be better on a rewatch, but I was curious what my impressions would be all this time later.

It still wasn’t good.  But I did have a lot of feelings about it.  So naturally I made a video review!

This video is about fifteen minutes, but if you really want a full, scene-by-scene analysis (with more ranting!) I also made a 35-minute video.  As I said, I had a lot of feelings.

Anyone else seen Love Never Dies?  Or have a movie you love to hate? 🙂

Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

As part of the Phantom Reading & Viewing Challenge I’m hosting this year (you can still join us!) in February I reread the story that began it all, Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera.  I’ve read it at least twice (probably three times?) before, but it’s been a few years since my last read.  The first time I was entirely new to the story, and hadn’t seen or read any other version.  The second and possible third times, I was comparing to numerous other versions and also looking for ideas for my own version of the story.  This time, I found myself fascinated by how uncertain an account it really is – more than most books, Leroux’s Phantom has the potential to be completely altered depending on how much we trust the narrators, and I wonder how this influenced all those later versions.

On the surface, the story is essentially as it is in later versions, although Leroux’s focus is a little different than most, putting much more of the spotlight on Raoul.  From this angle, it becomes a story of the young nobleman trying to unravel the mystery of what’s going on with Christine Daaé, opera singer and love interest.  Raoul eventually finds himself contending with Erik, a skeletal, masked man who lives below the Opera Garnier, posing as a ghost.  Raoul’s story is intercut with the almost unrelated account of the Opera’s managers as they try to cope with the pranks and extortion of the Opera Ghost.

Most later versions shift the focus to be less on Raoul and much more on Christine and the Phantom.  And personally, I find the Phantom a far more interesting character than Raoul, so that seems like a good choice!  But in Leroux, the different focus changes how we learn some key portions of the story and, with some other narrative choices, opens up room for doubt.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux”

Book Review: The Red Tent

In high school, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was on a list of optional summer reading–we had to read something from the list but not everything, and I opted to read something else.  I heard good things about the book from friends though, and it’s been floating at the back of my mind as something I ought to read some time ever since.  I’ve been reading through Genesis in the Bible recently and came to the portion about Jacob and his family–and decided it was time to finally get The Red Tent off my mental to-read list.  And after fifteen or so years…I felt mixed about the book!

I love the concept of this book so much that I’m surprised it took me this long to read it.  (Sort of.  More on that later.)  It’s the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to his twelve sons (most famously, Joseph of the many-colored coat).  It retells the Biblical story of this very complicated family from the women’s perspective, focusing on Dinah and the four wives (ish) of Jacob.  Since the Bible tends to be heavily male, I love that concept–and reading through the Genesis account made me want to explore the women’s side.

But then I didn’t really love what was done with it.  The book starts before Dinah’s birth, telling the story of how Jacob met and married Rachel and Leah and (kind of) married their handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah, and how all those brothers came along.  And that sounds complicated and interesting, but somehow the book wound up being very, very focused on sex, childbirth and circumcision.  And I can see how all of those would be important, but it was…very heavily weighted on those three topics.

The story improved for me once Dinah was born and it could focus on her rather than a vague omniscient story of her four mothers.  There was a lot that was interesting about the culture of the time, particularly the women’s culture.  I can’t honestly say how accurate any of it was, but at least as a possible perspective it was engaging.  I liked Dinah’s childhood probably best of any section of the book.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Red Tent”

Book Review: London

My book consumption, in terms of quantity, slowed down significantly in March, because I spent weeks reading just one book: London by Edward Rutherford.  1,200 pages of fairly small print, this is pretty much the definition of an epic tour de force.  It was a big undertaking (and I didn’t realize it would be so long until it arrived on the library’s hold shelf!) but it was definitely worth it.

London is historical fiction, with a little more emphasis on the “historical” than I usually like.  It begins, technically, four hundred million years ago with the formation of the Thames river valley.  It begins properly (on page 4) in 54 BC, in the Celtic village of Londinos on the Thames, where word has come of an approaching conqueror: Julius Caesar.  Starting with one family and gradually adding on more, Rutherford traces the history of London and several interlocking family trees down through the centuries.  The last chapter, an epilogue, is set in 1997, the year of the book’s writing, although the last proper story is during the Blitz.  I loved this way of telling a story, of a city and of its people.

It may have helped that I love London–I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited five times and I miss it when I’m away.  I also enjoy British history, so most of the major developments I had some initial familiarity with.  There was still plenty in here I didn’t know and, more importantly, Rutherford brought it all to life with a beautiful balance of individual lives set against sweeping developments.

Continue reading “Book Review: London”