Random News: Happy 450th Birthday to the Bard

Hello Lovely Readers,

We are back from our Easter break just in time for a very special birthday. Today marks William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday! His plays are the most preformed plays in the world which we can still appreciate today. Sometimes he is considered the greatest writer in the English Language, and England’s national poet. Many of the words and phrases that we use today were first used by him. He was born to a glove maker and rose to count two different monarchs as his patrons.
I have been truly lucky these past few years to experience so many of his plays in person. My love of Shakespeare can be traced back almost 15 years now. My goal is to see a performance of every play written by Shakespeare )excepting of course those lost to time). I am well on my way, but I still have 17 left (I have tickets to see 3 of these already). So I have some Shakespeare that I have not yet had a chance to experience.

I thought I would share some clips from Shakespeare’s plays this year in stead of sonnets. Hopefully, for those who are not fans, you can appreciate his work, even if you never like it!

First is a condensed scene from Much Ado About Nothing, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate. It is probably my favorite version (so far) of the play. This scene is where some friends trick Benedick into believing Beatrice is in love with him, and he realizes he loves her, too! She has not been tricked yet by her friends, so she is her usual hostile self at the end of the scene!

Next is a clip from Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance (as Olivia) and Stephen Fry (as Malvolio). I was fortunate enough to see this play in  person, which was a treat as it was my first experience with an all male cast! In this scene Malvolio is dressed funny because he believes a letter telling him to do so was from Olivia. She knows nothing about the letter so is very confused by the change in him!

This third clip is from The Tempest, which was the very first play I ever read by Shakespeare. In this version the lead male part has been cast as a female with just a minimal change to the name, Prospero to Prospera. Helen Mirran plays this lead, and in this scene at the the end of the play she is giving up her magic as she has achieved what she wanted.

Lastly, one of the best current actors of Shakespearean works is Ben Whishaw (although Tom Hiddleston is trying to take this over I think!). While he plays an ethereal Ariel in The Tempest, I absolutely loved him in Richard II in the Hollow Crown tetrology. In this clip he is being forced to relinquish his crown formally, and it is tearing him apart.

Now these are just a selection of the Bard’s work, and not even all of my favorites. What are some of your favorite works, actors, and versions?

Until next time,

 

Random News: Easter Break

Hello Lovely Readers,

We just wanted to drop you a quick note that we are going to be taking a short break for the Easter Holiday. Mostly it is because work is just a bit busy right now for both of us. Hopefully you don’t miss us too much, and we will see you next week sometime.

Until next time,

Random News: Hogwarts’ Classes

Hello Lovely Readers,

There is some exciting news that I am sure some of you have heard about. A group of Harry Potter fans have created a new website where you can complete the classes from Hogwarts. It is here: http://www.hogwartsishere.com/ Just as a heads up, you may need to re-fresh the page a couple times, it is having trouble coping with all the people accessing it. But keep trying.

So I have only just signed up, so I don’t have a full review of site yet. However, you can sign up with your name, or a made up name. While they do not assign you a house, you choose the one you want (I used my Pottermore sorting). And then everyone starts as a first year and you enroll in classes.

Right now I have only signed up for Defense Against the Dark Arts, as I just wanted to do one class first. When they say class, they mean there are readings and essays that will be marked. While this might not be for some people, I am excited. Also it seems like there is a way to make a community within the site, where you can interact with other fans, unlike Pottermore. So far from the icons that I can see it looks like many of the participants are older, late teens-early twenties. I will have a better idea in a couple weeks, and will report back then.

One other thing that you can do without actually joining is getting an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. You can view mine below. You get to make up the name and address. However, you can find me on the site under the name on the letter, so feel free to add me.

So will any of you be joining me in taking Hogwarts’ classes? Which ones are you looking forward to?

Until next time,

Book Review: Gone (Gone #1)

Book Title: Gone (Gone #1)
Author: Michael Grant

“Sam had a DVD in his hand. He said, ‘Yesterday I sent Edilio to the power plant to get two things. First, a cache of automatic weapons from the guardhouse.’
‘Machine guns?’
‘Yeah. Not just for us to have, but to make sure the other side doesn’t get them.’
‘Now we have an arms race,’ Astrid said.
Her tone seemed to irritate Sam. ‘You want me to leave them for Caine?’
‘I wasn’t criticizing, just… you know. Ninth graders with machine guns; it’s hard to make that a happy story.’
Sam relented. He even grinned. ‘Yeah. The phrase ‘ninth graders with machine guns’ isn’t exactly followed by ‘have a nice day’.’”
Gone by Michael Grant

Final Verdict: An interesting sci-fi book that will appeal to teenagers/adults and men/women alike.

For the full review, click the name of the book.

Book Review: Into the Land of the Unicorns

Book Title: Into the Land of the Unicorns
Author: Bruce Coville

“There’s lots of kinds of chains. You can’t see most of them, the one’s that bind folks together. But people build them, link by link. Sometimes the links are weak, snap like this one did. That’s another funny thing, now that I think of it. Sometimes when you mend a chain, the place where you fix it is strongest of all.”
Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Final Verdict:A great story for kids, with a strong little girl, some amazing creatures, and a great adventure.

For the full review, click the name of the book.

Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

Movie Title: Divergent
Director: Neil Burger

Notable Stars: Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Maggie Q

You’re different. You don’t fit into a category. They can’t control you. They call it Divergent. You can’t let them find out about you.” Tori in Divergent Movie

 

Final Verdict: An enjoyable movie with lots of action, but ultimately lacking in strong characters and chemistry.

For the full review of this movie and the movie trailer, click the movie title.

**Additionally, at the bottom of the review, there is a link to a hidden page where the ending of the book and the movie are compared. This is for those of you who have already seen the movie and/or aren’t concerned about spoilers**

Random News: Badass Gay Characters and Reads

Hello Lovely Readers,

As several of the books I have recently reviewed have had LGB (none however were transgendered unfortunately) characters in them (of which I recommend The Only Way or With Pride), I thought I would share some queer themed finds. Also as it is getting closer to Pride parade season, and summer I thought these might help anyone who is looking for some new queer literature.

The first find is a list over at The Mary Sue, which has 10 Badass Gay Characters, almost all of which have literary ties (all are in comic books if I am not mistaken). It was great to see such interesting characters, and thankfully I am familiar with almost all of them. I love that they start with John Constantine, as I usually forget that he is bisexual. My favorite from the list is one that I know not as many people would be familiar with and that is Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena, a manga that was translated into English when I was in middle school. I still own all the manga and the DVD series. She not only dates men and women, but she breaks gender stereotypes as she longs to be a Prince not a Princess! Maybe next time I am in the USA I will review the series (as right now that is where my books are).

Second find is from Buzzfeed and is 15 Books Every Young Gay Woman Should Read. It is funny that I read many of these when I was first coming out, and books were what made things easier for me, as I saw there were people like me (unlike what you see in a conservative small town!). Of course my favorite on the list is Ash by Malinda Lo, and is the one that I recommend to everything. I also remember very vividly being super nervous checking out Empress of the World by Sara Ryan as I think that was the first lesbian novel I read (although not that great of a book if I remember correctly)!

Lastly, I am very excited to share that I have started reading a new comic that you guys should check out if you can, called Loki: Agent of Asgard. It is a new comic series from Marvel that has the 3rd issue coming out this week (so it just started, which is nice for new readers). It follows a new version of Loki that is a little closer to the one from the movies, rather than the old comic books. Even better is that they are going back to some of the original mythology and have promised to include Loki’s bisexuality and gender fluidity (which is already included in the second issue!). I and several of my friends are loving the series so far, and Loki is wonderfully comedic! Plus he is an anti-hero which I am a sucker for!So will you be checking any of these books or comics out? Are there any that you really recommend? I always find it is hard to find really good stories with main characters who are LGBTQ!

Until next time,

Book Review: With Pride

Book Title: With Pride
Author: Megan Derr

“Always he was second or third choice. Just once he wanted to be someone’s first choice. He wanted to be offered, accepted, with pride. Not from obligation or with resignation. He wanted to be a preference, not simply the least disappointing of limited options.”
Kristof from With Pride by Megan Derr

Final Verdict: A great quick read, with an amazing new world, characters that will engage you, and a romance you can root for.

For the full review, click the name of the book.

Random News: Harry Potter Movie World News and New TV Show

Hello Lovely Readers,

So I am a little late to share this news, and I am still not sure how I feel about it. It was announced earlier this week that the new film in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts, will be at least a trilogy. You can read the article here. While I love the idea of a new Harry Potter world movie, I am not sure I want three, especially as they are looking to release them one year apart like The Hobbit movies. I guess this is one thing that I will just have to judge as we get to see footage.

Also this week I found out that there are plans for a live action Little Mermaid film directed by Sofia Coppola. The main rumors about the movie so far are that Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter movies) is in talks to play Ariel. However, Watson has said that she has not seen the script yet, so she hasn’t actually taken the part (read here). I am not sure if I see her as Ariel, but I am interested in a live action Little Mermaid film, as I am curious if they will keep to the Disney story or go to the darker original text!

The last news is all the build up I have been seeing for the new TV series, Penny Dreadful. I have to say I am very interested to see the series. Many of my favorite book characters (like Jim from The Sally Lockhart Mysteries) read penny dreadfuls. Even better, this TV series seems to have a decent budget and some great actors, but best of all they promise some of my favorite Gothic literary characters (such as Dorian Gray, Frankenstein’s Monster, Mina Harker). Buzzfeed did a neat article looking at the production of the series as well as several trailers, here. Also Doctor Who actress, Billie Piper, will also be one of the characters in the show (article here). You can watch one of the trailers below.

So what do you guys think about the Fantastic Beasts movies? Would you see a live action Little Mermaid? And will anyone else be tunning in to watch Penny Dreadful?

Until next time,

Book Review: Circus Escape

Book Title: Circus Escape
Author: Lilliana Rose

“Nessie could not believe she hadn’t heard anything about the mecha fight tonight. She loved a good battle performance, especially when it came to mechas. A circus of metal, mayhem and fights stirred the blood in her veins and made her feel alive.”
Circus Escape by Lilliana Rose

Final Verdict: Unless you receive a free copy, just skip Circus Escape and read some fanfics from your favorite fandom instead.

For the full review, click the name of the book.