Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look at the Wardrobe of…{a Persian queen}

The costumes in One Night with the King are stunning, particularly those of Hadassah (or Esther, whichever you prefer).  She actually wears so many different outfits that I'm picking my top five for the sake of conciseness.

So here we go!:D

The Royal Blue dress:

Gorgeous.  It sort of reflects the passion and sadness of the scene.  

The Rosebud dress:

Don't you dare laugh at my title;)  So anyways, the gown.  A little pink, perhaps, but beautiful.  (By the by, I aDORE all of Hadassah's headdresses!)

The Multi-colored dress:

Okay, to be fair, it's difficult to come up with good titles for these dresses!xD  This is the dress Hadassah wears when she receives the news of the plot to assassinate Xerxes, if I am correct, and I love it.  This actress can really pull off any outfit, it seems.

The Reading dress:

You can't see it very well in this picture, but this is a very pretty dress.  I love the simplicity of it, but then the gorgeous sequin work down the seams.

The Chess-game dress:

(At least, I think that's what they were doing in that scene.)  This is my favorite of Hadassah's gowns.  The combination of that stunning blue with silver detailing is a show-stopper for me.  

So there you are:)  There's my personal low-down on Hadassah's dresses.  All of her outfits are lovely, and the fact that there are so many of them is delightful!

"Bleak House" book review

"For I saw very well that I could not have been intended to die, or I should never have lived; not to say
should never have been reserved for such a happy life."
~ Bleak House, Chapter 36

Charles Dickens is not my favorite author.  'T'is just a fact.  Naturally, I love his conclusion to A Tale of Two Cities (makes me sob), but having read that book and a part of Little Dorrit, as well as seen adaptations of LD and A Christmas Carol, I'm simply not a huge fan.  That isn't to say I don't think he's an amazing author, he just isn't my favorite.  There are reasons for that, but I shan't go into them now.  Suffice it to say that when I started reading BH (Bleak House) on Goodreads, I didn't expect to finish it.  I was fairly convinced that I would find it yet another dark tale that would weigh me down until I reached the far-off ending, and to be frank I didn't want to have to sacrifice hours and hours in the dark to get to a faint beam of light at the very end of the book.  (So, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I even started reading it in the first place.)  


Then something happened that I hadn't expected:  the story drew me in.  From the start of the second paragraph ("Fog everywhere.  Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river…"), I began to give the novel a second look.  Hey, I thought, this could be worth another chance.  And boy, was it ever.  The characters were multi-faceted and the prose was stunning, such as Dickens usually produced, but unlike other Dickens books (in my opinion), the story itself was compelling and beautiful without constant sorrow and despair.  And that is part of why I "stuck with it."  It didn't just depress me (not to sound like a "shallow reader," or anything).  It was difficult in parts, of course, BUT there was light throughout it all.  

Now, I don't intend to review all of the characters, but there are a few upon whom I would like to touch.

First, Esther Summerson.  Sadly, for about the first half of the book, Miss Summerson reminded me most uncomfortably of…Elsie Dinsmore.  I know, I know!  Those of you who have read it, don't hate me!  All I'm saying is that at first, her extreme naiveté and how "perfectly" she behaved was reminiscent of that certain person.  But that was just for the first half of the book.  By the conclusion (and for a good while preceding it), she had won me over entirely.  She is rather "perfect," but she's strong, principled, kindhearted and optimistic even after all she's been through.  

Next, Mr. Jarndyce.  *SPOILER ALERTS*  Okay, whoa, what the HECK, man?  Proposing to Esther????  Seriously?!  You are her FATHER FIGURE!!!!!  That is so incredibly wrong.  I don't even have the words.  *collects herself*  Okay, so needless to say, I was caught completely by surprise when Mr. Jarndyce wrote that letter.  The idea had never crossed my mind.  (I was in fact lying on the couch groaning and making other sounds of disgust, including, "No, no, NO!" when I read that section.)  Now, I am not at all against the whole man-older-than-woman thing prevalent in period dramas (for example, Mr. Knightley and Emma, Mr. Rochester and Jane), but "THIS. is sick." *END OF SPOILERS*  Badly done, Mr. Dickens.  Badly done indeed.

And Lady Dedlock.  Ho, boy.  How do you even.  She is a BRILLIANT character.  Brilliant.  And *SPOILER ALERT* I was sooooo relieved that she didn't kill herself!!! *END OF SPOILER*

But my favorite character, I believe, was Mr. Boythorn :D  I related the most to him, in his "carrying everything to the superlative degree," and he was so boisterous and blustery, but with such a huge heart underneath it all:)

So, if you haven't read BH and are hesitating due to the ominous title and the formidable size of the thing, take heart!  I personally found it less depressing and disturbing than Little Dorrit, and as to the size…if it grabs you like it grabbed me, you won't even mind the length (you'll probably, on the contrary, be thankful for it).  

I Feel I Really Must Clarify...

My dears,  a Rumor floated around some months ago that Anthony Andrews (he who stole our hearts as the elusive Pimpernel) has "recreated" the role of 'Enry 'Iggins from My Fair Lady.  The Rumor states that Anthony Andrews' portrayal has, as one descriptor put it, "blown Rex Harrison's out of the water."



*cue the Queen's voice from Mirror Mirror*  There's no such thing.  Anythony Andrews couldn't have outdone Rex Harrison's Higgins because that's simply humanly impossible.

I missed the broadcast of A.A.'s MFL, but I have listened to a bit of Andrews' performance, and...I remain as staunch in my belief as ever.  Remind me exactly why we prefer his portrayal to Rex Harrison's?  

While I'm sure Anthony Andrews was delightful as Higgins (I personally didn't enjoy what I heard that much, you've noticed, I'm somewhat biased:D), Rex Harrison, to me at least, took Higgins and basically embodied him.  He IS 'Enry 'Iggins to me, a confirmed old bachelor, and quite likely to remain so;)

This isn't to say I don't think Mr. Andrews is a remarkable actor.  He is indeed (TSP and the little bits of Ivanhoe I've seen).  In fact I'd love to see more of his work.  But I felt that I had to defend Mr. Harrison's *coughcough* Academy Award-winning performance *aHERM*.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"The Blue Castle" book review

This book is odd.  Not in a bad way, necessarily, but still odd.  When I first bought it, I skimmed through it and didn't find it that interesting.  But a while ago, being sick and rather bored, I picked it up again and discovered that it's a perfect sick-day read.

Which is strange, since it's not a very happy story, and not even one of my favorites at that.  Definitely the grimmest L.M. Montgomery story premise I've read, the novel starts out "drab and colorless," with the account of Valancy Stirling's woes.  

Now, frankly, I wasn't crazy about Valancy.  I felt she wallowed in self-pity too much and was downright rude when she decided to "break free."  Admittedly, her family was oppressive and clearly messed up in many ways, but that didn't excuse some of her remarks.  I mean, honestly, telling an aunt that you can give her the address of a beauty parlor that could reduce the number of her chins?  That's just cruel.  And yes, her family had been unkind to her as well, but it didn't seem like they were trying to be wantonly cruel, which Valancy certainly was.  Aside from that, she held grudges in the most appalling manner.  But on the other hand, Valancy was a good protagonist because she reminds me of how I can be myself.  To paraphrase someone I heard somewhere, we have loads of patience for ourselves and our shortcomings, but we have precious little for the same shortcomings in someone else.  So, no, I didn't like Valancy very much, but she is a very human character.  She's also somewhat inspiring, because, if you tone back a LOT on her choices, she can encourage you to not be constantly worrying what people will think of you if you're honest with them.  Which can be good.  So, yeah... :)

Now, as to her family...truthfully, I rather enjoyed them;)  They were just funny!  Hideously messed up and priggish, but funny.  "'Let us be calm...let us be perfectly calm.'"

Moving on to Barney.  He wasehh.  Didn't hate him, didn't love him.  He seemed tooI don't recall.  Self-centered?  Careless?  Whatever;)

While there were cons to the books, there were also some major pros.  Even though I didn't care for the characters very much, the storyline was original and interesting.  And then, of course, there was L. M. Montgomery's signature style of writing, with her passionate and romantic descriptions of nature, as usual.  

So, in a nutshell review, not my favorite book, but extremely interesting, and very well-written:D

Friday, August 1, 2014

"It's done!" "Yes, Arwen. It's over now."

Well, peeps, I finally did it.  I can now say that I have read The Lord of the Rings trilogy!  *confetti and general fanfare*

(With the exception, of course, of the appendices in TROTK.  But I do plan to read those.  Soon.)

How does it feel to have finished it?  How do you take up the threads of an old life?;)  More importantly, how do you even begin to blog about it?  The simple answer is, I don't know, to all questions.  Since it's still sinking in that I've actually finished what seemed to be such a huge undertaking, I'm what you might call shell-shocked.  Joyfully shell-shocked, but nonetheless.

So, what was my final opinion?


Seriously though, did I learn a heck of a lot more about Middle-earth?  Of course. Did opinions on certain characters change?  A little.  Were old loves strengthened?  Ooh, boy oh boy, just you wait;)  Did I like certain characters less in the trilogy?  Unfortunately…yes.

  For this post, rather than try to review the books, I'm mostly just going to clog your connections with pictures of the Epicness known as The Lord of the Rings.  And epic quotes and songs therefrom.  And amongst these pictures quotes, I shall intersperse random thoughts begging to be let out.  Now, I have to say that one of my (very few) complaints with these books, is that I found the first two a little slow in their first halves.  Not that I don't appreciate "slower" books, or that I only enjoy bam-bam-bam action books.  There was just…something little lacking in TFotR and TTT.  But just a little.

Another complaint was…Gimli.  *ducks*  I'm sorry, I'm sorry!  But here's the thing.  His little crush/infatuation with Galadriel was cute when it started out.  But by the end of the first two books, I basically prepared myself to be annoyed every time Gimli opened his mouth.  Because, seriously.  Threatening to end a friendship - not to say a person's life - if they didn't deem Galadriel the most beautiful being ever to walk in Middle-earth?  Come on, now.  That's just…weird.  And he just did not stop talking about her.  Okay, okay, we get it, she's pretty.  So's Lothlorien.  That doesn't mean you need to force your opinion on literally every person you come across.

This is what Little Person's face came to look like whenever Gimli started talking.

So, now that we've gotten that out of the way…I totally loved Lothlorien in TFotR.  Like, I cannot even begin to tell you.  It was so incredible.  So now I have a problem:  Is my favorite location Rivendell, Lothlorien, or Ithilien???

I loved how Tolkien described the chapters in Lorien.  I could picture everything, it seemed:)  *happy sigh*

This.  This was one of my favorite quotes out of the entire trilogy.  I'm just saying.  Beautiful.  Speaking of Haldir, I loved him in the books.  He was awesome.

"A star was bound upon her brows, 
A light was on her hair
As sun upon the golden boughs
in Lorien the fair."
~ The Fellowship of the Ring

Don't ask me why I find this cool.  I'm weird.  But you already knew that.

"The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.
The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge's fire is ashen-cold;
No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
The darkness dwells in Durin's halls;
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dum.
But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep."
~ The Fellowship of the Ring

This is a great man.  Never tell me he isn't.

Moving on to The Two Towers…

Ahem, yes.  TTT.  When I read the second page, I was rather furious at J.R.R. Tolkien.  ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY KILL OFF A CHARACTER IN THAT CRUELLY INDIFFERENT MANNER.  Having first witnessed Boromir's (completely heartbreaking) death at the end of TFotR movie, I was expecting an emotional death scene.  You know, the very touching kind, that he cried while writing?  (Inkheart movie plug.  Watch it.)  But no!  "But Boromir did not speak again."  That would have been touching…had it been preceded by emotion of any kind.  Which it most certainly was NOT.  *glares at Tolkien*  You. Sick. Heartless. Man.

Aside from that, I have to say that, again, the first half of TTT was too slow.  Or maybe it was just that I wasn't in the mood for it.  At any rate, I ended up skipping over some of it.

*cough* But.  Leaving those two downers aside…*grins*

I DID love the second half of TTT.  Mostly because…

…of this guy right here.  

Without a doubt my favorite literary character I have ever come across, I love Faramir so flippin' much. And boy, oh boy, was that love strengthened by reading the books;)  

Bless you, Pippin!

The above picture sums up a good bit of why I love Faramir.  He has suffered so much in his life, yet he remains approachable and open, instead of closed and bitter.  He clearly treats people with respect and kindness no matter what their station.  Go read TRotK if you want proof.  

(Don't you dare laugh at me XD)

Of course, other parts besides just Faramir were good.  Frodo and Sam and Gollum were quite entertaining.  (Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli…ahem….)

Ithilien!!!  Oh, how I loved the descriptions of Ithilien!  It was so beautiful (and a very fitting place for Faramir and Eowyn - *cough* yes, well.  Moving on.)

"Presently [the stream] brought them to a small clear lake in a shallow dell:  it lay in the broken ruins of an ancient stone basin, the carven rim of which was almost wholly covered with mosses and rose-brambles; iris-swords stood in ranks about it, and water-lily leaves floated on its dark gently-rippling surface; but it was deep and fresh, and spilled ever softly out over a stony lip at the far end."
~ The Two Towers

I just love how it seems like Tolkien, tired of writing for so long about hopelessness and ashen land and war, decided to give himself and us a reprieve, and wrote about a peaceful place, found in the heart of the shadow.

Shelob's Lair was epic.  (What am I saying, all of it was epic.)  But especially Shelob's Lair.  YOU GO, SAM!!!!!!  Plus, it was very nice to not have to witness Frodo take utter leave of his senses and make Sam leave him.  The whole they-got-separated-thing was much better:)

"And with that he staggered to his feet and was Samwise the hobbit, Hamfast's son, again.
'Now, come, you filth!' he cried.  'You've hurt my master, you bture, and you'll pay for it.  We're going on; but we'll settle with you first.  Come on, and taste it again!'"
~ The Two Towers

We also meet Eowyn and all the Rohan people in TTT, which is another plus.

I like this gif, but DON'T think I'm an Eowyn/Aragorn shipper.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They both ended up with the person with whom they're supposed to .  And Eowyn and Faramir make me so incredibly happy…*blissful sigh*  So yeah.  I just think the gif is kinda cool:D

The epicness.  

See? I like Aragorn too.  In fact, I love him more each time I read or watch the trilogy.  He's really such a great guy.  I especially loved how tenderly he cared for everyone during the last battles and such, healing AND defending everyone. 

Yes, I do love Aragorn Elessar.  (Just…not quite as much as Faramir.  But he's close. XD)

Why must this trilogy be so doggone beautiful??!

(In case you didn't know, "The Steward and the King" was my favorite. chapter. ever.)

But anyway, another of my favorite quotes ever was the part of Sam's song while trying to rescue Frodo:

"His voice sounded thin and quavering in the cold dark tower:  the voice of a forlorn and weary hobbit that no listening orc could possibly mistake for the clear song of an Elven-lord.  He murmured old childish tunes out of the Shire, and snatches of Mr. Bilbo's rhymes that came into his mind like fleeting glimpses of the country of his home.  And then suddenly new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came unbidden to fit the simple tune.

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run, 
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie 
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done, 
nor bid the Stars farewell."
~ The Return of the King

I actually sort of skimmed over this part in the book, but this quote is epic.  And true.

Honestly, I can't decide if I thought the ending was a bit rushed.  After such a long trilogy, maybe he was just in a hurry to get to some half-way cheerful stuff ;), but it seemed rather hurried.  Nevertheless, it was beautiful.

I expected nothing less:)

"And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water.  And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."
~ The Return of the King

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Words Are Life"

Yes…indeed they are:) (Shameless plug for The Book Thief, because I just finished reading it and you need to obtain a copy as soon as is humanly possible.  But, ahem, more on that later.)

As I am having trouble finding inspiration for a post, I thought I'd just let whoever happens to be reading this have a peek at my reading aspirations for the summer.  

I'll admit, I haven't been able to plow through all the books I have planned as quickly as I thought I would.  I suppose I read more slowly than I used to (can't think why…), in addition to the longer books, and all the other *ahem* pressing demands on my time in the summer *cough* like Leverage and movie nights and the ongoing obsession with LotR *cough*.

But anyway, here's just a little glimpse at what I've already completed this summer (and my thoughts thereon), and what I hope to complete before school starts back up.  (Note:  This list will be shortened considerably, for reason's sake:D)

Let's get started, shall we?:)

Completed (but in no real order and with an out-of-5-star rating):

~ Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
(Totally ADORED it!  'T'is one of my new favorites!:D  A sweet, happy story with great lessons.  Rating:  5/5)

~ Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
(*sigh*  Oh, dear.  Should I dare to write down - that is, type out my honest opinion?  Okie-dokie.  I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected to.  Since I LOVE the musical, and even manage to tolerate the non-musical film with a little enjoyment, and had heard such glowing reports of the book…I was honestly a little disappointed.  But that's all I'm going to say for right now; I'll write a more thorough review later, never fear!  Rating:  2/5.  Sorry, peeps.)

~ Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
(I do like this book, but I think it was an unwise decision to decide to read it immediately after the movie;D Rating:  3.5-4/5.  Still deciding!)

~ The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
(*grins, winks, and does her typical oh-my-it's-LotR thing*  I started this book earlier in the school year, took a break, and then picked it up this summer determined to get through it.  Yes, yes, I had to plow my way though some parts, but on the whole, the second half of TFofR was FABULOUS!  All the songs and poems and descriptions and character development and epic locations and all the FEELS!:D Rating:  4.8/5)

~ Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
(I thoroughly enjoyed this book, this time around.  A few parts got a little long, and a few small ones were of…questionable legality, er, magicky stuff and theology, but on the whole, it was great.  Not that it surpasses Ella Enchanted, of course.  Though I will say that I liked the heroine of Fairest, Aza, better than Ella.  I empathized with her a lot more.  Rating:  3.5/5)

~ The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(Oh.  My.  Word.  Cannot even.  Having trouble.  So good.  Just…yes.  Rating:  4/5.  It would get a 5/5, but unfortunately, Mr. Zusak seemed to feel the need to flood his book with totally unnecessary, FREQUENT language.  If you so choose to read the book - and you should, if you can get past the language and a couple annoying references to anatomy and such - don't say I didn't warn you.  In fact, let me finish going through my book with a black pen, and then borrow it from me:P)

Whew!  Now, I had hoped to read a lot more than this over the summer, but again, progress has been slow and honestly, I'll probably only manage to get these read during the remainder of summer:

~ The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (almost done with this one!)
~ The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (not almost finished with this one, but making progress!)
~ and hopefully a couple, if not all, of the Song of Acadia series, by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn (which, just an FYI, is incredible.  And I don't usually even like Janette Oke a whole lot.  My favorite is the first book, The Meeting Place, but they're all fantastic.)

So, there you have it!  There's what will be occupying my reading schedule for awhile:)

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Look at the Wardrobe of...{an Evenstar}

I've happened upon a new idea for a blog series, that I'm planning on keeping in the back of my mind for those times when I'm suffering for a good post idea.  In this new series, I will pick a movie character whose wardrobe I particularly enjoy or think interesting, and I'll devote a blog post to the analyzation of each character's wardrobe.  Sound fun?  Alrighty then, let's get started!:D

First on the list to be examined is Arwen Undomiel, who, aside from being my favorite female character in The Lord of the Rings, also possesses my favorite movie wardrobe.  I'm making this up as I go along, but I suppose I shall just jump into examining Arwen's dresses.

#1:  The White Dress

Pictures for this one were kind of hard to find, so…I do apologize:-/  This dress is beautiful and simple, folds of white cloth draped tastefully, accessorized by a gorgeous necklace;)

This outfit is very soft and lovely and is very well-suited to the scene and to Rivendell.  Loves it.

#2:  The Purple/Blue (Requiem) Dress

A lovely design, with a soft color between blue and purple that reminds me of twilight, accented beautifully with silver.  Arwen wears a lovely purple cloak with this dress for part of the scene, as well.  

Arwen sees a vision of what would happen in her life if she stayed in Middle-Earth and waited for Aragorn when she wears this dress.  Then the Evenstar decides that she will wait for the one she loves, regardless of how her father has told her that only pain awaits her if she remains in Middle-Earth.  I've read it described as Arwen's "requiem" dress, and I think that's a great description!  At the time that she wears this dress, Arwen is going through a very difficult time, remembering Aragorn and happy days before all this trouble came to her home, and she's wistful.  I think this dress is that way too - wistful, and gorgeous in its wistfulness.  

#3:  The Red Dress

This is my favorite of all the dresses Arwen wears - I think (I'm starting to have second thoughts looking at the others!).  The dark midnight blue which constitutes the body of the gown is set off stunningly by the gorgeous red sleeves!

Arwen wears this in the scene when she beseeches her father to reforge Narsil.  In that scene, the light of the Eldar begins to visibly leave her.  The scene is quite bittersweet, as she begins to "taste the bitterness of mortality."  The dress is, accordingly, solemn but beautiful.

#4:  The Green (Coronation) Dress

Another beautiful costume, this soft mint green with delicate, white, lacy accents, combined with a gorgeous headdress, makes for a very elvish-looking gown.

This is Arwen's pick for Aragorn's coronation, where she surprises him (and it makes for a very sweet reunion!XD).  It's a very happy, peaceful, and hopeful scene, and now that I think about it I can see that in Arwen's dress.

So there we are!  That's all I'll do for Arwen right now.  In short, I love her wardrobe, it's my favorite out of all the wardrobes I've seen, I do believe:)

Hope you enjoyed the first post in the series!