“The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill | Book Review

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“It was a normal weekday morning, nothing out of the ordinary, until a woman’s scream echoed throughout the Boston Public Library. During the subsequent lockdown, strangers Cain, Marigold, Whit, & Winifred connect while sitting at the same table. They form a fast friendship & start spending more time together than apart. The library incident is initially ruled a false alarm, but soon after a body is discovered. Now the newly-formed group of friends is caught up in a police investigation, & it seems like not all of them are innocent witnesses. One of them might be guilty of murder.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Poisoned Pen Press through NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

If you’re currently in search of a mystery that’s a thrill ride from the very first chapter, look no further than “The Woman in the Library. I hadn’t done much research before reading so the first nine pages were enough to hook me. The story lagged a bit in the middle but didn’t take long to pick back up. I finished this book in less than three days because I had to know what happens; it was all I could think about!

The first twist is common knowledge so I’m going to discuss it. The prologue is a letter from American writer Leo Johnson to Australian author Hannah Tigone; they’ve been pen pals for quite awhile but haven’t yet met in person. As a fan of her work, Leo politely but insistently asks for a new book, offering to be her beta reader. We now move into chapter one, setting up a story about four strangers connecting in the Boston Public Library during a police lockdown. After the final sentence, which is quite the enticing cliffhanger, we see another note from Leo to Hannah revealing that he’s test reading her new book. The main plot is her manuscript, & the side plot is her correspondence with Leo, though we only ever see his notes to her. I’d never read anything like that before & thought it was such a brilliant idea. I’ve seen a few reviews saying the line between fiction & reality is confusing at times, but I strongly disagree. It’s always very clear when you’re reading Hannah’s book & when you’re reading Leo’s letters. There is a clear question of how much inspiration she takes from reality, but I would call that intrigue rather than a source of confusion.

I want to give this book all the stars for it’s unique format, but the story did not completely deliver. The whodunnit reveal made sense but disappointed me; I thought there would be more to it, more connection to real life. Speaking of the side plot, there was less development as it went on, & the abrupt resolution was not satisfying. I do feel let down overall, but I must admit the final chapter left me with intriguing questions & theories floating around in my head. My biggest question is why Hannah ended her book the way she did; at the risk of sounding dramatic, that creative choice blew my mind. My final rating is three stars, & I still recommend this thrilling mystery despite an ending that fizzles. The format is a bibliophile version of Inception & fascinating to experience; you won’t be able to put this book down until it ends!

Preorder your copy now because the release date is not too far away: June 7th, 2022.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: I read an uncorrected ARC so certain things might change before the final copy is printed.

Abuse: An abusive stepfather is mentioned throughtout the book; Chapter nineteen depicts verbal & physical abuse as well as attempted sexual abuse.

Alcohol, Cigarettes, & Drugs: Mentions of alcohol, alcoholics, bars, intoxication, cigarettes, & junkies; morphine & painkillers are also mentioned in relation to a hospital patient.

Blood & Violence: Multiple mentions of blood & blood splatter | A hypothetical murderer is discussed, the killer pounding his or her victim’s head into a hard surface. | Dead bodies described with bloody hair, cut throats, and/or injuries to the breast & pubic areas | Description of a young girl leaning over a lookout to take a picture & falling to her death because of a loose guardrail | One mention & two depictions of attacks that lead to head trauma | Two mentions & one depiction of a stabbing 

Insensitive Language:

A character makes racially insensitive comments about black people, such as being identifiable by living in a certain neighborhood or wearing hoodies.

A character from “It” by Stephen King is referred to as the “fat kid” who might get the “pretty girl.”

In reference to hospital janitors, a character says “Immigrants, they get the job done.” He’s referencing the musical Hamilton but is met with the response “That’s not less offensive because it’s Hamilton.”

Two men involved in a bar fight are described as “thugs”; their physical appearances are not described, but that particular word could be perceived as racially-motivated & offensive.

Language:

*$$hole

Chr*st / Chr*ss*kes

D*mn

F*ck / F*cking

Good L*rd

H*ll / H*lluva

J*sus

My G*d / Oh My G*d

Sh*t

Son of a b*tch

A bakery’s products are described as something that would “make you believe in G*d & willing to forsake Him at the same time.”

Sensual/Sexual:

A character removes her shirt to show off her tattoos; her nakedness is mentioned as well as the sight of her “small breasts.”

Some of the characters go to a restaurant called Oh My Cod which is known for sexually suggestive decor & menu items, a few of which are described. Someone from the group refers to the restaurant as a “sex shop.”

Someone is called a “courteous porn star” in jest.

There’s a detailed discussion about methods of murder that give the killer sexual gratification (i.e. A certain movement while sitting atop a victim or the motion & penetration of a blade).

Two characters sleep together; the scene doesn’t fade to black, but their intimacy is described with minimal detail. In another chapter, they’re in bed together, but nothing happens beyond the two of them waking up side by side.

Two other characters sleep together off-page; it’s mentioned in a conversation with very little detail.

Stalking: There is evidence of one or more characters being stalked: robbery, phone calls, text messages with photos of front doors, & a physical attack.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: “The Agathas” by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson | Book Review

• Previous Video: UNPOPULAR OPINION: Kanthony underwhelmed me! | Watching + Reviewing Bridgerton Season Two

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Patreon

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

“The Agathas” by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson | Book Review

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“Last summer Alice Ogilvie disappeared after her boyfriend Steve Anderson ended their relationship. Now she’s home, & it’s time to go back to high school. She tries to return to normal despite the curiosity surrounding her disappearance, but the mystery on everyone’s mind grows even bigger when Alice’s former best friend & Steve’s current girlfriend Brooke Donovan disappears.

Iris Adams has one goal & one goal only: get out of Castle Cove! She agrees to tutor Alice because it’s a paid job, but her pupil is too distracted by the latest news to get any work done. When a reward is offered by Brooke’s grandmother, Iris sees an opportunity to fund her trip & gives in to Alice’s desire to play detective.

When Brooke’s body is found, Steve is arrested based on convenient but flimsy evidence. Alice & Iris aren’t convinced of his guilt so they turn to the works of Agatha Christie to guide their investigation. Along the way they face personal demons, hard truths coming to light & threatening the integrity of their partnership. Are they truly prepared for the task at hand, or will the secrets of Castle Cove prove to be too dangerous for two amateur teen detectives?”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Delacorte Press through NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

“The Agathas” was inspired by the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, & it’s not just lip service in the title. Her iconic characters Marple & Poirot are mentioned throughout, & several chapters begin with a quote from one of her many novels. If that’s not enough, there’s a special blurb about Agatha’s success, & I’m pretty sure Alice Ogilvie’s disappearance is a nod to her own 11-day disappearance. I was excited to get my hands on this book because Agatha is my favorite author; for that same reason I was terrified to start reading because the standard was set so high. The pace started slow, & the teenage tone of the dialogue took some getting used to. But just when I was starting to feel like this might not be my cup of tea, the mystery consumed me, & I flew through the last three quarters of the book. 

There are two points-of-view: Alice Ogilvie & Iris Adams. I’m not sure how the chapters were divided between authors Kathleen & Liz, but the writing is seamless; the story is cohesive from start to finish while both characters remain unique & easily distinguishable from the other. I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of mixed media: Alice & Iris’ “Murder Board,” news articles, social media comments, text conversations, & transcripts from local news, police interviews, & press conferences. Those pages made me feel even more immersed in the mystery, like I was an Agatha too. I correctly identified the murderer & motive around the halfway mark, but I’m the kind of bibliophile who theorizes as I read so I wasn’t bothered by a spoiled ending. What did bother me is how the reveal happened; the location made sense thanks to excellent foreshadowing, but the interaction was a little awkward in places.

Despite a few cons, this book was a top-down, sea air thrill ride so I’m rating it four stars. I do recommend it to Agatha Christie fans, but only those who also enjoy teen novels; otherwise you might find yourself more annoyed than amused by the language & mannerisms of the youths. The coastal California setting reminds me of the Big Little Lies TV show so picture that with a teenage cast. If the result intrigues you, preorder a copy of this murder mystery right now. The release date is May 3rd, 2022.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: I read an uncorrected ARC so certain things might change before the final copy is printed.

Abuse: Iris’ dad is abusive, & it’s frequently discussed in her chapters. There are several mentions of the time he broke her wrist. He shows up a couple times, disobeying the restraining order; near the end of the book he barges into the Adams’ apartment & physically harms Iris & her mom. He is attacked in self-defense, first hit on the head & then pushed down a flight of stairs.

Alcohol, Cigarettes, & Drugs: There are several mentions of alcohol & being drunk, & the bar where Iris’ mom works is mentioned & visited a few times. There is one mention of Lucky Strikes cigarettes. There are mentions of pills & weed as well as being high. Two separate times, someone’s drink is drugged.

Blood: Some of the characters wear cheerleader costumes on Halloween that are covered in fake blood. There are a few instances when a character bleeds from a head wound.

Language:

Apesh*t

A*$ / A*$hole

B*d*ss

B*tch / B*ches / B*tchy

D*mn / D*mmit

Dumb*$$

F*ck / F*ckboy / F*cking / Middle finger

G*d

G*dd*mn

Good L*rd

H*ll / Holy H*ll

Holy sh*t / Sh*t / Sh*tless

J*sus / J*sus Chr*st

Merde (French word for sh*t)

These can also be considered crude: Crap, Frickin’, Mother-Sucker, & What the F ( I don’t know if those last two will be changed in the final book, but they obviously replace What the f*ck & Motherf*ck*r )

Sensual/Sexual: There are a few mentions of condoms. Alice is shown a video of another character getting intimate with a boy from their school. One character exchanged nude photos & sexual texts with multiple people, some of which are recovered & described.

Violence: After the discovery of a dead body, an autopsy is performed off-page & discussed on-page. Crime scene photos are looked at, & the body is described in gruesome detail more than once. There is one past & two present car crashes which lead to head trauma. There are a few attacks during which a character is hit on the head. When the murderer is revealed, the murder is described in detail.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: Saying Goodbye To Arthur

• Previous Video: The Hunger Games 10th Anniversary SteelBook Collection | Best Buy

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Patreon

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

Be a Goldfish

VandeNoord, Krissie. Be a Goldfish. 2020. https://northstudio.design/products/be-a-goldfish-print.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I said I would be back with news so here I am. I applied for another promising work-from-home job, only to find out the listing had been on the internet since mid-December; I saw a listing posted at the very end of December which is why I applied. There were 600+ applicants, & the company was already at the end of the interview process so there was a 0% chance my application would be looked at. MAJOR BUMMER! That was my second official rejection which doesn’t sound like much, but it is when you consider the time & energy required for the application alone. I also made two inquiries on social media which both ended with “No.” At the risk of sounding dramatic, my confidence is shaken, & I’m feeling defeated. I’ve cried myself to sleep more than once, & my stress levels are off the charts. The other day I tripped going up a flight of stairs, bruised my knee, & spilled coffee all over me & the carpet. I. BROKE. DOWN.

I know I’m coming off as a huge baby, but two months ago I left a retail job that was a constant source of toxicity in my life. I was mentally & physically ill day after day, week after week, month after month. I couldn’t take it anymore so I took a risk & left. I had enough savings to support me for a little bit so I switched on Vacation Mode for the last two months of 2021. Well, I was supposed to. Being the sick, twisted person that I am, I turned into my very best workaholic self & barely enjoyed the holidays, this being my first chance to do so since starting retail in 2015. I know, I have a problem. Boundaries between personal & professional life are not my strong suit. I would say I’m working on it, but lying is a sin.

Now that you know more about my situation, perhaps my reaction makes a little more sense. I’ve been very picky about where I apply because I REFUSE to get stuck at a job for five and a half years again. I’m two years away from turning thirty. I need a big girl job, a career that’s going to support me long-term. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “dream job” because to me, that’s my blogs & YouTube videos. However, I want it to be something that fits me as a person, maybe even something that taps into one or more of my interests. I see girls my age with jobs they love. Artists starting successful small businesses. Disney fans working for Disney-centered companies. Readers working for bookish companies. In my head & heart, I know what I’m looking for is possible & not just a pipe dream.

Recently I had to set aside the job search because my part-time side job picked up. I have administrative & blogging tasks to catch up on; I’m also doing some social media work, which I’ve never done before. New experiences are always great for growth! That is consuming most of my time, & any spare minute is going into online content because I’m determined to make something out of my corner of the internet. That is where I currently stand. I don’t know what the next few weeks hold, but I’m doing my best to take it one step at a time with my head held high. After a disappointing finish at the Northern Trust Open last year, golfer Jon Rahm pressed on to his next tournament, the BMW Championship, & told reporters: “I must say, for all those Ted Lasso fans out there, be a goldfish. If you haven’t seen the show, you’ve just got to check it out. I feel like almost everybody knows. Have you seen the show? It’s basically [the] happiest animal in the world is a goldfish. You know why? He’s got a 10-second memory. I played great golf last week, just a couple bad swings down the stretch, and that’s the most important thing to remember.” That’s my motto for 2022. Be a goldfish! 🐠

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KXqWCLHgHg

“You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish Sam!” – Ted Lasso

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: “From Shetland, With Love” by Erin Green | Book Review

• Previous Video: Baking Markie the Unicorn Sugar Cookies | Lisa Frank + Pillsbury

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Patreon

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

“The Matzah Ball” by Jean Meltzer | Book Review

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📖 Synopsis: On top of trying to please her parents, Rabbi Goldblatt and Dr. Rubenstein, and manage a chronic illness, Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is secretly a best-selling author. Why is it a secret? Because she writes Christmas romance novels! When her boss requests a Hanukkah romance, Rachel isn’t sure she can find enough inspiration in the Festival of Lights to create the same magic as her Christmas books. Just when life couldn’t get any crazier, Jacob Greenberg comes back into her life, arriving in New York City to throw the ultimate Hanukkah party with his successful entertainment company. The two of them have very different memories of what transpired eighteen years ago, but one thing is clear: both of them walked away from that summer at Camp Ahava with a broken heart. Can Rachel work alongside Jacob long enough to find book inspiration at the Matzah Ball, or will the reappearance of her camp archenemy ruin the double life she’s worked so hard to maintain?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Jews come from so many different backgrounds, making our worldwide family equal parts incredible and meshuggeneh. Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt’s upbringing doesn’t mirror my own, but this messianic Jewish girl still found common ground and comfort in her story. Rachel’s dad is a rabbi so she grew up under intense scrutiny, trying to meet the high expectations of her family and community. I was nodding my head at every single sentence because my dad’s a pastor, and life as a pastor’s kid is the same as that of a rabbi’s kid; eyes are on you at all times, people scrutinizing everything you do and gossiping the minute something doesn’t meet their approval. I do not say this lightly: I get it. I totally get it! That’s the biggest reason why I connected to this book beyond surface-level enjoyment.

If you’re a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, Jacob and Rachel’s romance is for you. Thanks to miscommunication spanning eighteen years, they hold a grudge against one another for post-summer camp broken hearts. I am ridiculously persnickety when it comes to character flaws and couldn’t help feeling annoyed at the lies and secrets for no good reason. However, I fully understand that’s a major detail supporting the plot and don’t officially consider it a negative. Afterall, the conflict is what makes the ending that much sweeter. Sweeter than Sufganiyot!

For the most part, this book is a home run. Minor details were repeated when unnecessary, such as adult Jacob’s memory of young Rachel’s high ponytail and hot pink shorts (pages 56 & 78). Some Jewish phrases were explained while others were not. There are enough context clues to keep you out of the dark, but I can understand why it might frustrate non-Jewish readers, though I would encourage a quick Google search for the sake of education. In the final pages the onstage moment between Rabbi Goldblatt and his wife Dr. Rubenstein led to a sweet parent-daughter moment, but the set-up was too cheesy for my taste, the overheard dialogue unnatural.

There were very few negatives within 385 pages, but I’m leaving room for improvement because this is Jean Meltzer’s author debut, a mighty impressive one I might add. Four out of five stars. There is familiarity for members of the tribe and common ground for gentile readers. No matter who you are, it will take mere pages to feel like you’re wrapped in the cozy warmth of a Hanukkah blanket. Read this book with my blessing. Chag Hanukkah Sameach!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

💬 Favorite Quote:

“My journey of Hanukkah,” Toby said simply, “has spanned ninety-one years. I have celebrated this holiday in Germany, France, New York and Paris, all over the world with my grandson, during good times and bad times alike.” She quieted, a small sadness sitting there at the tip of her throat. “But what I always explained to Jacob is that these candles are a metaphor. They remind us that we always have a choice. We can be someone who snuffs out another person’s candle and, in the process, makes the world a darker place. Or we can be the type of person who spreads light. Better to be the shamash–one candle that lights all the others and brightens an otherwise dark world.” – Bubbe Toby Greenberg, Page 182

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

⚠️ Content Warnings:

Grammar & Spelling
Page 107 – “Symbols” instead of “Cymbals”
Page 166 – “Kendell Jenner” instead of “Kendall Jenner”
Page 242 – “It that strange?” instead of “Is that strange?” or “Is it that strange?”
Page 307 – “Leaning into whisper” instead of “leaning in to whisper”
Page 354 – “Once Esther Shapiro is finished her set” instead of “Once Esther Shapiro has finished her set”

Language A$$ or Hard-a$$ – Pages 24 & 243 Bastard – Page 251 D*mn – Pages 18, 26, 27, 32, 106, 147, 191, 250, 260, 281, & 371 Gawd – Pages include 61, 206, 239, 294, 300, & 377 G*d (as a swear) – Pages 230 & 377 G*dd*mn – Pages 102, 147, 233, & 259 H*ll – Pages 78, 325, & 368 J*sus or J*sus Chr*st (as a swear) – Pages 22, 141, 162, & 205 Screw ‘Em – Pages 250, 260, 281, & 378

Sensual/Sexual Moments
Page 89 – Sensual inner monologue about a man’s body
Page 239 – Sensual inner monologue about a man’s body
Page 307 – One kiss
Pages 307 through 313 – Jacob visits Rachel’s apartment at night. It’s implied that they might sleep together, but nothing happens.
Page 371 – One kiss
Page 378 – One kiss, Jacob carries Rachel into her bedroom

Other Mentions of alcohol & drinking throughout the book plus an instance or two of drunkeness

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

🌟 Please support Jean Meltzer:

Facebook

Instagram

Website

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: Ha Bracha | A Blessing Over 2021

• Previous Video: Watching 9 Jewish (mostly) Hanukkah Romance Movies

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Snapchat

• Tumblr

• Twitter

• Youtube

Ha Bracha | A Blessing Over 2021

It’s a gross understatement to say 2020 was a rough year so I won’t say it. Instead I’ll look forward to the new year with cautious optimism & lots of prayer. Speaking of prayer, I recently heard Joshua Aaron’s Hebrew cover of the song The Blessing, & it is a spiritual experience. It’s the perfect prayer to lead us into the coming year so I recommend you find a quiet spot, close your eyes, & let the song wash over you. Wishing you & yours a healthy 2021! 💙 

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” ’ “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”  – Numbers 6:22-27

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzqrWae5lK4

• 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 

Yevarechecha Adonai, VeYishmerecha • The LORD bless you and keep you • יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ⁠

Ya’er Adonai Panav Eleycha ViChuneka • Make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you • יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ⁠

Yisa Adonai Panav Eleycha, VeYasem Lecha Shalom • The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace • יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

Yehi chasdo aleicha le’alfei dorot • May His favor be upon you to a thousand generations • יהי חסדו עליך לאלפי דורות

Mishpachtecha viladecha • Your family and your children • משפחתך וילדיך

Dorotecha achareicha • Your generations after you • דורותיך אחריך

Rucho telech lefaneicha • May His presence go before you • רוחו תלך לפניך

Letsidecha achareicha • Beside you and behind you • לצידך, אחריך

Misvivecha belibecha • All around you and within you • מסביבך, בליבך

Hu itcha • He is with you • הוא איתך

Baboker uvaerev • In the morning in the evening • בבוקר ובערב

Betzetecha uvoecha • In your going and your coming • בצאתך ובואך

B’sivlotecha beoshrecha • In your weeping and rejoicing • בסבלותיך ואושרך

Hu itcha • He is for you • הוא איתך

Hu itanu im kulanu • He is for us, He is with us • הוא איתנו עם כולנו

Hu itcha • He is for you • הוא איתך

Shalom • Peace • שָׁלוֹם

• 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 • 🎵 • 🎶 •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: Goodbye 2020 | Hello 2021

• Previous Video: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society | Reading Rush 2020 Day 6

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Snapchat

• Tumblr

• Twitter

• Youtube

Goodbye 2020 | Hello 2021

–   J a n u a r y   1 s t   –

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020 ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   J a n u a r y   3 r d   t o   5 t h   –

• Saying Goodbye to Waitress on my Art Blog:

What Baking Can Do

She Used To Be Mine

Everything Changes

–   J a n u a r y   6 t h   –

• Best Dressed | Golden Globe Awards 2020 ( Art Blog )

–   J a n u a r y   2 6 t h   –

The world lost Kobe Bryant & his daughter Gianna along with Alyssa, John, & Keri Altobelli, Ara Zobayan, Christina Mauser, & Payton & Sarah Chester. Kobe was my favorite athlete & one of my biggest inspirations; I still don’t have the words to describe the deep sorrow I feel or how much I miss him. 💔

–   F e b r u a r y   1 0 t h   –

Best Dressed | 92nd Academy Awards 2020 ( Art Blog )

–   F e b r u a r y   2 4 t h   –

Mamba + Mambacita ( Art Blog )

Riposi in Pace ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   M a r c h   1 5 t h   –

Just Want to Say Hello (acknowledging the virus on my Lifestyle Blog & checking in with everyone)

–   M a r c h   2 2 n d   –

Activities for Social Distancing ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   M a r c h   2 5 t h   t o   2 9 t h   –

The Bookie Trials Royal Weekender | Team Mage ( Lifestyle Blog )

📚 Books Read: 1

“The ABC Murders” by Agatha Christie ( ✔️ Clairvoyance – Read a 5-Star Prediction ✔️ Tome Champion – Finish One Book ✔️ Magi Might – Read a Book With Purple on the Cover )

📖 Pages Read: 247

🥇 Badges Earned: 7 out of 8

–   A p r i l   1 s t   t o   3 0 t h   –

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020 + Stay at Home Reading Rush ( Lifestyle Blog )

📚 Books Read: 12

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins ( ✔️ Care of Magical Creatures exam )

“The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller ( ✔️ Arithmancy exam )

“Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond” by Adam Beechen ( ✔️ Potions exam )

“Every Crooked Path” by Steven James ( ✔️ Charms exam )

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson ( ✔️ Transfiguration exam )

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling ( ✔️ History of Magic exam ✔️ Read a Book in the Same Room the Whole Time ✔️ Read a Book Set Somewhere You Wish You Could Go ✔️ Read a Book That Will Make You Smile )

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins ( ✔️ Astronomy exam )

“The Night Country” by Melissa Albert ( ✔️ Ancient Runes exam ✔️ Read a Book With a House on the Cover )

“Every Deadly Kiss” by Steven James ( ✔️ Muggle Studies exam )

“At Bertram’s Hotel” by Agatha Christie ( ✔️ Defense Against the Dark Arts exam )

“The Cornish Coast Murder” by John Bude ( ✔️ Divination exam )

“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins ( ✔️ Herbology exam )

📖 Pages Read: 3,836

Reading Prompts Completed: 4 out of 4

Ordinary Wizarding Levels Completed: 12 out of 12

–   J u l y   2 0 t h   t o   2 6 t h   –

Reading Rush 2020 ( Lifestyle Blog )

📚 Books Read: 7

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han ( ✔️ Read a Book in a Genre You Want to Read More of badge )

“P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han ( ✔️ Read the First Book You Touch badge )

“Always & Forever, Lara Jean” by Jenny Han ( ✔️ Read a Book With a Cover That Matches the Color of Your Birthstone badge )

“Stuart Little” by E.B. White ( ✔️ Read a Book That Inspired a Movie You’ve Already Seen badge )

“Aquaman, Volume 1: The Trench” by Geoff Johns ( ✔️Read a Book Completely Outside Your House badge )

“The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer ( ✔️ Read a Book That Takes Place on a Different Continent Than Where You Live badge )

“The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie( ✔️Read a Book That Starts With The Word “The” badge )

“Capturing the Devil” by Kerri Maniscalco ( Started in October 2019, doesn’t count as a complete book )

📖 Pages Read: 1,911

🥇 Badges Earned: 13

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPXkMvjQnYU&t=4s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WInx_BC_SMs&t=2s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSC9ZL8vF6M&t=6s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTgRwZYJZZY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJsjEZfJ9iM

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JrncGyfM0&t=2s

➡️   R e a d i n g   R u s h   D a y   7   C o m i n g   S o o n !   ⬅️ 

–   J u l y   3 0 t h   –

• I restarted my college photography project on social media, posting a photo(s) every Wayback Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, & Flashback Friday:

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDSabCQAIWa/

–   A u g u s t   1 s t   –

Dawsey + Juliet ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   A u g u s t   2 0 t h   –

Support the Irish Arts ( Art Blog )

–   A u g u s t   2 4 t h   –

Starbucks Kiwi Starfruit Refresher | Drink Review ( Lifestyle Blog )

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH9W1wmKeWU&t=3s

–   A u g u s t   2 6 t h   –

Birds of Prey ( Lifestyle Blog )

Girl Power! ( Art Blog )

–   A u g u s t   2 8 t h   –

Ballad of Mulan ( Lifestyle Blog )

Loyal, Brave, True ( Art Blog )

–   A u g u s t   3 0 t h   –

Long Live the King, an art tribute to Chadwick Boseman

–   S e p t e m b e r   1 s t   –

Alta Mar is Over ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   S e p t e m b e r   1 8 t h   –

Shanah Tovah | Happy New Year ( Art Blog )

–   O c t o b e r   1 s t   t o   1 6 t h   –

• Disney Remake + Sequel Reviews on my Lifestyle Blog:

Reviewing 14 Disney Movies

Alice in Wonderland 2010

Maleficent 2014

Cinderella 2015

The Jungle Book 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016

Pete’s Dragon 2016

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Christopher Robin 2018

Dumbo 2019

Aladdin 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019

Lady and the Tramp

The Lion King 2019

Mulan 2020

14 Live Action Disney Remakes + Sequels Ranked

–   O c t o b e r   1 7 t h   –

Disney Magic Remade ( Art Blog )

–   O c t o b e r   2 8 t h   –

• A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary | Unboxing + Flip Through

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezeg7p6aIOU&t=4s

–   N o v e m b e r   8 t h   –

• Old Salt Raincoat – Kiel James Patrick | Unboxing + First Impressions

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFWdmmOfPZI&t=5s

–   N o v e m b e r   1 1 t h   –

• My 1st Squishable Haul | Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte + Storm Cloud

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T7aNUVjy34&t=3s

–   N o v e m b e r   1 3 t h   –

• “Uprooted” + “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik | Illumicrate Unboxing

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYwDqm9qUVM&t=3s

–   N o v e m b e r   1 4 t h   –

• Poirot, Sherlock, & . . . | Once Upon a Crime Collection | North Ave Candles Unboxing

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41sXwE8SKt8&t=2s

–   N o v e m b e r   2 6 t h   –

• Friends 50 States Challenge | Thanksgiving 2020

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0GQHSGfZ-0&t=2s

–   D e c e m b e r   1 2 t h   –

• Mini Squishable Dreidel Unboxing | Happy Hanukkah!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf0dF_ertbo&t=11s

–   D e c e m b e r   1 5 t h   –

• MinaLima Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone Illustrated + Signed Edition | Flip-Through + Review

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6R-Fj5uAGk&t=1s

–   D e c e m b e r   1 8 t h   t o   2 4 t h   –

• Artmas 2020:

A Christmas Carol

Bunnybee Baking + The Cookie Gallery

Holiday on Ice

Hannah Detterbeck

Little Nero’s Gingerbread

The Show Must Go On

Christmas Advertisements 2020

–   D e c e m b e r   2 6 t h   –

I Had the Holiday Blues ( Lifestyle Blog )

–   D e c e m b e r   3 0 t h   –

• Instagram Top Nine:

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJfj_pPgxfD/

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

🕯   A moment of silence for all the people who lost their life because of COVID-19. May their memory be a blessing!   🕯 

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Farewell to Alex Trebek (Jeopardy! host), Carl Reiner (actor, author, comedian, director, & screenwriter), Chadwick Boseman (actor), Conchata Ferrell (actress), David Lander (actor, baseball scout, comedian, & musician), David Prowse (OG Darth Vader), Dawn Wells (actress), Diana Rigg (actress), Eddie Van Halen (musician & songwriter), Fred Willard (actor, comedian, & writer), Gianna Bryant (#2 Mambacita), Grant Imahara (MythBusters), Helen Reddy (actress, author, singer, & songwriter), Jeremy Bulloch (OG Boba Fett), Jerry Stiller (actor, author, & comedian), Joe Ruby (Scooby Doo Co-Creator), Kelly Preston (actress & model), Kenny Rogers (actor, entrepreneur, musician, record producer, singer, & songwriter), Ken Spears (Scooby Doo Co-Creator), Kobe Bryant (#8 & #24 Black Mamba), Lynn Cohen (actress), Mary Pat Gleason (actress & writer), Max von Sydow (actor), Naya Rivera (actress, model, & singer), Nick Cordero (actor), Olivia de Havilland (actress), Orson Bean (actor, comedian, producer, & writer), Regis Philbin (actor, singer, & TV host/presenter), Richard Herd (actor), Sean Connery (actor), Tom Lister Jr. (actor & wrestler), & Wilford Brimley (actor & singer).

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Let’s take a look at the numbers: I ended 2020 with 497 art blog followers (up from 486), 475 lifestyle blog followers (up from 472), & 293 subscribers + 140,868 views (up from 274 & 121,601). I must admit those numbers are extremely disappointing & feel like a slap in the face after a year of work. Even though I wasn’t very active creatively, I put my all into every single blog post & video I produced. I’m letting my self stew in misery for a bit, but then I’m going to suck it up, hold my head high, & do better in 2021.Onwards & upwards! ➡️ ⬆️

📖 This Bible verse feels very appropriate after the year we just endured so I’m leaving you with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to break down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to tear and a time to sew; A time to keep silence and a time to speak; A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war and a time of peace.”

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

I Had the Holiday Blues | Belated Blogmas 2020

Another year, another failed Blogmas. I like to be consistent. 😂 This year my excuse isn’t work because I had less shifts than I’ve ever had in December thanks to 20% capacity in malls. My excuse this year is . . . um . . . well, I’m not actually sure what it is. Lack of motivation? I was excited for the holiday season back in October, but something inside me fizzled as the days went by. I didn’t put up my family’s nativity scene or watch my favorite Christmas movie The Nativity Story. In fact, I barely watched any holiday movies. I did listen to a fair amount of festive music, but that was about it. If you’re feeling left out in the cold over here on my lifestyle blog, I didn’t do Vlogmas for my YouTube channel either. I desperately wanted, nay, needed to be in the Christmas spirit this year, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy to celebrate. Despite an undercurrent of sadness draining my energy, I still managed to have a lovely day at home with family on the 25th. I watched The Santa Clause & played Crash Team Racing with my brother, cooked a repeat of Thanksgiving with my mom, & watched the Lakers game with my dad & brother. The Lakers beat the Mavericks! 💜💛 We ended the festivities with a fire, popcorn, & Wonder Woman 1984. I didn’t like it as much as the first movie, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Highly recommend! After that my brother & I watched Friends until midnight, the official end of Christmas. I guess all of that is a good metaphor for 2020, feeling down but making the best of the situation. In the words of Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, “From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow so have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” 💚 🎄 ❤

H A P P Y   H A N U K K A H  🕎  M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S  🎄  H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R  🎉 

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

14 Live Action Disney Remakes + Sequels Ranked

• 🐇 • 😴 • 👠 • 🎩 • 🐉 • 🐅 • 🌹 • 🍯 • 🧞‍♂️ • 🐘 • 🐕 • 🏰 • 🦁 • 🌸 • 🐇 • 😴 • 👠 • 🎩 • 🐉 • 🐅 •

After fourteen movie reviews, the time has come to rank these Disney remakes from best to worst, & I am S-C-A-R-E-D. I can be a critical person, but I like to have fun when I watch movies; I always try to find the positives & not focus on the negatives. This was a difficult task for me, & I’m still not sure if these are truly my final rankings. But, I need to wrap up this blog series so I’m stopping & giving you the results of many, many, many hours of deliberation.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here is a blank list you can print & fill out with your own remake rankings. Have fun!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I don’t want to make you wait any longer than you already have so here they are, my remake rankings. I took into account many different factors: my favorite remakes, the remakes that were most successful, the remakes that improved upon the original film, the number of complaints I had for each remake, etc. Because of that, there might be a few surprises. Cinderella is currently my favorite remake, but it came in 3rd because The Jungle Book & Christopher Robin are the only remakes I couldn’t come up with criticisms for. Pete’s Dragon isn’t the remake I’ll rewatch the most, but I think it’s a huge improvement over the original movie; the stunning visuals & heartwarming story are the two main reasons why it earned the 4th spot on my list. Beauty and the Beast is an absolute shock to me, but rewatching it made me realize it’s a better movie than I’ve given it credit for, shortcomings & all. Aladdin edged out Mulan because it only has one mediocre villain versus two mediocre villains. The Lion King is in the middle of the pack because while it has stunning visuals, it didn’t perfectly replicate the original movie or make any improvements. I really like Alice in Wonderland, but it got edged out by improved special effects post-2010 & remakes of movies that I have more of a personal connection to. Maleficent was good enough to close out my top ten followed by the adorably imperfect Lady and the Tramp. Two unsuccessful & unnecessary sequels find themselves at the bottom of the list along with Dumbo which will always be one of my least favorite Disney movies. There you have it! Those are my rankings . . . for now. 😉

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here are my rankings of the original animated movies. There are only 11 because the remake sequels were not based on an original movie. Christopher Robin is the exception, but it wasn’t based on one particular film so I didn’t add one.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This is a side-by-side view of my animation rankings & my remake rankings. Two movies line up: Alice in Wonderland in 8th place & Dumbo in 11th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

These are the Rotten Tomatoes scores of each remake from the audience & the critics respectively; the sequels are not included. One movie lines up: Dumbo in 11th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This is a side-by-side view of the audience Rotten Tomatoes scores & my rankings minus the sequels. Three movies line up: Beauty and the Beast in 4th place, Alice in Wonderland in 8th place, & Dumbo in 11th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This is a side-by-side view of the critic Rotten Tomatoes scores & my rankings minus the sequels. Two movies line up: The Jungle Book in 1st place & Dumbo in 11th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

These are the Rotten Tomatoes scores of each remake, sequels included. One movie lines up: Maleficent in 9th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This is a side-by-side view of the audience Rotten Tomatoes scores & my rankings including the sequels. Three movies line up: Lady and the Tramp in 11th place, Alice Through the Looking Glass in 13th place, & Dumbo in 14th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This is a side-by-side view of the critic Rotten Tomatoes scores & my rankings including the sequels. Three movies line up: The Jungle Book in 1st place, Cinderella in 3rd place, & Beauty and the Beast in 5th place.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

Cinderella 2015 | Movie Review

The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast 2017 | Movie Review

Christopher Robin 2018 | Movie Review

Dumbo 2019 | Movie Review

Aladdin 2019 | Movie Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019 | Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp 2019 | Movie Review

The Lion King 2019 | Movie Review

Mulan 2020 | Movie Review

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

For those of you that stuck around for 16 days, I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I would love to hear your rankings down below in the comment section. There are more Disney remakes coming so keep an eye out for more movie reviews. Which ones are you looking forward to most? I’m excited for CruellaHercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, & Lilo & Stitch. 😊

• 🐇 • 😴 • 👠 • 🎩 • 🐉 • 🐅 • 🌹 • 🍯 • 🧞‍♂️ • 🐘 • 🐕 • 🏰 • 🦁 • 🌸 • 🐇 • 😴 • 👠 • 🎩 • 🐉 • 🐅 •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Video: NEW Kiwi Starfruit Refresher + Lemonade + Star Drink | Starbucks Review

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

Mulan 2020 | Movie Review

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

🎥 Cinematography by Mandy Walker

👗 Costumes by Bina Daigeler

🎬 Directed by Niki Caro

🎞 Edited by David Coulson

🎼 Music by Harry Gregson-Williams

📋 Produced by Chris Bender, Jason T. Reed, & Jake Weiner

📝 Screenplay by Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek, & Rick Jaffa

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🐪 Arka Das as Red Fez

🍵 Cheng Pei-pei as the Matchmaker

🗡 Chen Tang as Yao

⚔️ Donnie Yen as Commander Tung

🗡 Doua Moua as Chien-Po

🦅 Gong Li as Xianniang

🐎 Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan

👑 Jet Li as The Emperor of China

🗡 Jimmy Wong as Ling

🦗 Jun Yu as Cricket

📜 Nelson Lee as The Chancellor

⚔️ Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang

👩🏻‍🦱 Rosalind Chao as Hua Li

👨🏻 Tzi Ma as Hua Zhou

👧🏻 Xana Tang as Hua Xiu | Elena Askin as young Xiu

👩🏻 Yifei Liu as Mulan | Crystal Rao as young Mulan

🗡 Yoson An as Chen Honghui

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

The final Disney remake I’m reviewing is Mulan, the most recent offering to grace our screens. The original is my favorite Disney princess movie so I’m going to be very thorough & very honest. Buckle up!

•  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  S  P  O  I  L  E  R  S  •  A  H  E  A  D  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •

First of all, I’d like to acknowledge that Gong Li has been on this blog before. Check out this Cannes red carpet blog post from 2019. I promise you won’t have to scroll too far!

 Staying consistent with mentioning all the themed intros, a Chinese landscape was added around the castle. I actually wondered if the castle itself was a nod to the Shanghai Disney park so I looked it up. My intuition was correct! It is indeed the Enchanted Storybook Castle from Shanghai Disneyland.

It wouldn’t be right for me to start anywhere other than the cinematography because off the top of my head, there are at least five shots I want to frame & hang up around my bedroom. Seriously, the picturesque scenery is breathtaking. It’s right up there with the New Zealand landscapes that created what we know as Middle Earth. Funnily enough, some of the Mulan scenes were filmed in New Zealand. Small world! 🇳🇿

I am head over heels in love with the costume choices for each part of the movie, especially the vibrant colors in the different cities & villages. One of the most interesting costumes is worn by Xianniang. Her flowing sleeves & metal skirt mimic the feathers & wings of the hawk she transforms into. Her crown & belt are made of bones which is very creepy but also incredibly cool. On top of all that, her hands are talons, even when she takes a human form. I had high hopes for this villain, & you’ll find out my final thoughts later . . .

The score is beautiful & atmospheric, incorporating melodies from the original soundtrack which is a nice dose of nostalgia. Right before the matchmaker scene, Mulan says “I will bring honor to us all,” & the melody of Honor To Us All can be heard. The melody of Reflection plays during the night training scene, & Mulan’s reflection is visible in the water. Many fans were upset about the omission of musical numbers, but this interpretation is meant to stand on its own. I’ve seen people giving bad reviews because the remake deviated from the animated movie, & I don’t think that’s fair because Disney made it very clear that this would be a different kind of Mulan movie. It would not have worked as a musical.

This reimagining of Mulan’s story is narrated by Mulan’s father Hua Zhou, a perfect choice. At the very heart of this movie, you won’t find a romance or even a warrior’s tale; it is the story of a bond between a father and daughter. When everyone else is annoyed by Mulan’s antics and faux pas, her father is always there, supporting her the best that he can. It’s obvious that he’s proud of her, even before she returns home from war a decorated hero. In fact, when that time comes, all he cares about is that she’s back home safe & sound. I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING!! 😭

Mulan’s chi is an early indication that she could be seen as a witch by the general public, her ultimate connection to Xianniang. Hua Zhou tells her chi is meant for warriors, not daughters, & she needs to hide her gift away & silence its voice. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this addition to the story. Mixed in with some of the martial arts sequences, it felt very cheesy. For example, young Mulan jumping off the roof or adult Mulan running up & across palace buildings. I just don’t think the spiritual element blended seamlessly; it could’ve been cut completely & not affected the movie at all.

Our first villain sighting is Xianniang taking over a merchant’s body as a disguise, a hint that she’s a witch. Next we see her cohorts, the Rouran army, in black clothing riding black horses toward the outpost where she’s located. Right from the start, they’re portrayed as a brutal group. Xianniang is especially cutthroat during the invasion, killing many soldiers herself & not giving it a second thought. She is very powerful, but the leader Böri Khan sees her as nothing more than a lackey, causing division within their partnership.

I was so excited to see Jet Li as the emperor, but something was not right about his voice & audio. Every time he talked, specifically in the throne room, it seemed like his mouth wasn’t synched with the audio.I hate to say this, but it’s very cringey & something that shouldn’t have been overlooked. Speaking of audio, there’s another mistake in the first throne room scene. The lone soldier who survived the Rouran invasion tells the emperor that Böri Khan is fighting alongside a witch. The problem is that the audio says “woman,” but the actor said “witch” in the original scene. They obviously changed that part of the script & re-dubbed the audio. I know that’s such a small thing, but I’m the kind of the movie watcher who will notice.

Mulan’s horse Black Wind looks exactly like Khan from the animated movie. That detail alone tugs my heartstrings! ♥️

Spotted: Mulan’s cherry blossom comb! I respect the changes made to give this remake it’s own voice, but I also love the details brought over from the 90s movie that make it feel like a familiar book I’ve read over & over again. 🌸

Remember the chaos the spider caused in the matchmaker scene? I felt that in my arachnophobic soul! 🕸 🕷 😱

First of all, it’s incredibly messed up that Mulan’s father is expected to fight with a leg injury. Second, I love that before he bravely commits to fighting, he pointedly says he has no sons but the blessing of two daughters. Later on while he’s  preparing for battle, Mulan says that if she were a son he wouldn’t have to fight. He tells her that he regrets nothing about his life, implying he doesn’t wish his daughters were sons. I must reiterate that their bond is the heart of this story. I cannot praise Tzi Ma’s performance enough! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

Around the 25:30 mark, Mulan’s face can be seen in her father’s sword reflected back from the camera. Yifei Liu improvised knowing that would happen, & it was executed so well that it was kept in the movie.

I’ve seen some negative comments about Mulan not cutting her hair. Even Ming Na Wen poked fun at this omission! The crew did this on purpose because Chinese soldiers kept their hair long. Mulan would’ve looked more feminine with short hair, making her disguise useless. I’m not an expert on this subject, but one quick Google search says this is historically accurate, at least for certain dynasties.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan prepares to take her father’s place while the score takes on an 80s vibe. It feels very much like a Rocky training montage before a big fight. I dug it in the 90s, & I dig it now. 🎶

When Mulan walks away from her home dressed in her father’s armor, the shot ends with the white phoenix statue bathed in warm light. Nice touch! Later on a real, colorful phoenix appears & becomes Mulan’s silent guide for the rest of the film. I understand that it was meant to be a more serious replacement for Mushu, but it was too cheesy. Perhaps it would’ve been better as a white spirit like her father’s crest, a bit more subtle than a colorful bird.

 I’m so glad I saw a comment about the character named Cricket because I had no idea he was meant to be a namesake & tribute to Cri-Kee. He is so sweet & adorable! He tells his fellow soldiers that his mother calls him a good luck charm because he was born under an auspicious moon. 🦗

Donny. Freakin’. Yen. That’s literally all I have to say about him. WOW! 💥

The remake isn’t dripping with comedy like the animated movie, but there are bits of humor added at appropriate times for lightness. One such moment is Mulan’s first time in the soldiers’ tent. It doesn’t take long for her to close her eyes & quickly volunteer for guard duty. Hilarious! 😂

I haven’t seen anyone else mention the statue from the 31:30 mark. It’s the same statue seen in the daylight at the 29:10 mark. At night in the darkness, I think it resembles Shan Yu, the villain from the animated movie. I’m not sure if this was purposeful, but it caught my eye.

Before training begins, Sergeant Qiang references lyrics from I’ll Make A Man Out Of You: “We’re gonna make men out of every single one of you.” Later on Commander Tung says “Tranquil with a forest but on fire within.” The line is supposed to be “Tranquil as a forest but on fire within.” I’m not sure if that was a mistake or intentional.

Eagle-eyed fans should be able to spot Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po. Their appearances aren’t exactly the same as their animated counterparts, but they’re easily recognizable based on personality.

During the meal scene, Chien-Po quotes the song A Girl Worth Fighting For. I’m pretty sure there’s a few more lines from this conversation inspired by the animated movie. Please note that Chen Honghui doesn’t laugh when Mulan, disguised as Hua Jun of course, describes his perfect girl as courageous & smart with a sense of humor. *sigh*

The bathing scene is another nod to the animated movie. It’s a little different without Mushu & the rest of the soldiers, but it’s meant to be a serious moment between Mulan and Chen Honghui. Well, as serious as it can be. Obviously it’s still a humorous situation!

I thought the martial arts stunts were a great addition to this movie. I do have a note from my brother John who’s an avid martial arts movie-watcher: “Most international martial arts films have a director and a martial arts director. This movie would’ve benefitted from that.” I’m not sure if this movie had a martial arts director or not, but I think his point was that the martial arts scenes could’ve been better.

I know I mentioned the scenery before, but I need to rave a little more. The landscape in the battle scene when Mulan & Xianniang meet is stunning. The fog, the green hills, the yellow ice (Is that what that is?!). It doesn’t even seem real! . . . probably because it isn’t. The crew searched for a real landscape to fit their sulfurous vision but ultimately built it themselves.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan’s identity is revealed after an injury. The difference in the live action remake is that Mulan isn’t truly injured, & she decides to reveal who she really is. When she enters the battle as herself, WOW WOW WOW!!! What a warrior moment! I definitely sobbed the first time I saw that scene. After she reveals herself as a woman & kicks butt, the enemy runs away thinking she’s a witch. This is another hint at her connection with Xianniang, setting up the very end of the movie.

I hate to be nit-picky (not really), but I have to mention another audio error. A Rouran soldier yells “Enemy on the ridge” when Mulan shoots an arrow their way. The audio doesn’t match up with whatever he said in the scene, specifically the word “ridge.” It’s possible he messed up the line in the heat of the moment & had to fix it in post.

Just like her animated counterpart, Mulan sets off an avalanche to take out the enemy. It is just as genius when you see it happen with real people. 🏔

When Mulan & Xianniang meet for the 2nd time, the witch invites her to join her cause so they can form a powerful team. Basically, it would be a slap in the face of all the men who’ve held them down. Mulan says no because she is nothing like Xianniang.

I love love LOVE that Chen Honghui doesn’t hesitate to call out Commander Tung’s hypocrisy. He point blank asks why he won’t believe Hua Mulan when he would believe Hua Jun. FACTS!

I knew Jet Li wouldn’t see much action as the emperor, but it was nice to see him fight a little bit. Actually, that’s when he looked most comfortable. 😊

The animated versions of Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po are the comedic relief of the army. I don’t mind that, but it was nice to see something a little different in the remake. They go from weak boys in training camp to brave men on the battlefield. They don’t disguise themselves as women to distract the enemy. They just fight!

In the final battle scene, Mulan is still wearing her red soldier robe. I love the symbolism! She joined the army to take the place of her disabled father. Whether she’s Hua Jun or Hua Mulan, she’s still a soldier.

In their third meeting, Mulan pleads with Xianniang to do the right thing & save the emperor from Böri Khan. This is where the villain arc loses me. Xianniang barely needs convincing to help Mulan. She already didn’t like Böri Khan, but it still seems like way too quick of a turnaround. There are hints throughout the movie leading up to this moment, but it doesn’t hit me emotionally when she takes an arrow to save Mulan. I understand the strong female empowerment message her story arc was meant to embody, but it didn’t work for me. She was brutal as a villain but never reached her full potential therefore her transformation doesn’t feel as dramatic as it should. That would’ve been rectified had we witnessed another brutal villain onscreen, but Böri Khan did not live up to Shan Yu. He had the appearance and intimidation working in his favor, but all that fizzled in the final scene. I didn’t think the martial arts choreography flowed well, and the chi was over the top. Mulan leaping from roof to roof looks like a person being carried through the air by wire, and the sequence of the emperor catching Böri Khan’s arrow & Mulan kicking it into Böri Khan’s chest is too cheesy. Two mediocre villains leading up to an anticlimactic ending left me feeling let down. It was probably my least favorite part of the movie because I thought the villains had so much potential in the beginning.

Speaking of the final scene, I was not a huge fan of the phoenix, but I do love the camera shot of the wings behind Mulan after the emperor tells her to rise up like a Phoenix. Gorgeous! 🔥

I would recommend you have tissues handy for the end of the film. The classic song Reflection plays once again while fireworks erupt in the sky. Inside the palace Mulan is introduced to the emperor by Ming Na Wen, the voice of Mulan in the animated movie. I cannot tell a  lie. This part had me SOBBING! 😭

Fun Fact: When Mulan apologizes to the emperor before rejecting his offer to join the emperor’s guard, Ming Na Wen’s daughter Michaela Zee can be seen in the crowd turning her face toward the camera.

Mulan is not the typical Disney princess so I’m glad this film didn’t rely too heavily on a romance. Mulan & Chen go from rival trainees to respectful colleagues to friends. Their final scene together hints at something more, their true feelings for one another. *SQUEAL* I love that! I also the love the pinkish purple hue of the lighting. Incredibly romantic! 🥰

Mulan’s reunion with her family had me crying AGAIN. Her mom Hua Li gets so emotional despite being so harsh early on. STOP! I didn’t mention this earlier, but I like the addition of her sister Hua Xiu; they obviously have a very special bond. STOP IT! It’s her dad Hua Zhou who really turns on the waterworks for me. In the animated movie Mulan presents her dad with the sword of Shan Yu & her medal from the emperor; he throws them aside to hug her because that’s all he truly cares about. That sentiment is exactly the same in the remake. Mulan apologizes for everything she’s put her family through, & her dad says it is his daughter that means everything to him. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! 😭

The red & black visuals behind the closing credits are stunning & made even better by Christina Aguilera’s new song Loyal Brave True. This is followed by Reflection sung in English by Christina and a Chinese version from Liu Yifei. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PZm8vhm6I

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNprQYHenNI

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxPGNjhpOAc

💬 Closing Thoughts: Even though the martial arts movie shell wasn’t perfectly executed, I think the heart & soul of the story hits deeper than people are giving it credit for. I’ve seen a lot of criticism regarding the acting & lack of connection with the characters. I strongly disagree! I think Mulan’s personal journey & relationship with her father are the best parts, grounding the movie and saving it from being mediocre or worse. Addressing the nostalgic lamenters, most of the elements people missed would not have fit into this version: Cri-Kee, Mushu, musical numbers, etc. I think the element I missed most was Grandmother Fa, but there’s an easy solution: watch the animated movie! Let’s address one more criticism: Many people complained about how many times the word “honor” was said. If I counted correctly, “honor” was said 6 times & “dishonor” 2 times. Personally, I never felt annoyed by it. My biggest issues were the cheesy chi & the mediocre villains. Other than that, I like this remake & definitely see myself watching it again.

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Critics | 50% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: TBD

❓ Original or Remake: The remake should be applauded for its efforts to be different. However, the original movie is perfect so this decision is easy. Original!

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK8FHdFluOQ

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

Cinderella 2015 | Movie Review

The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast 2017 | Movie Review

Christopher Robin 2018 | Movie Review

Dumbo 2019 | Movie Review

Aladdin 2019 | Movie Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019 | Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp 2019 | Movie Review

The Lion King 2019 | Movie Review

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

🎥 Stay tuned for my final rankings tomorrow! 🍿

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Video: NEW Kiwi Starfruit Refresher + Lemonade + Star Drink | Starbucks Review

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube

The Lion King 2019 | Movie Review

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

🎥 Cinematography by Caleb Deschanel

🎬 Directed by Jon Favreau

🎞 Edited by Adam Gerstel & Mark Livolsi

🎼 Music by Hans Zimmer

📋 Produced by Jeffrey Silver, Jon Favreau, & Karen Gilchrist

📝 Screenplay by Jeff Nathanson

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🦁 Alfre Woodard as Sarabi

🦃 Amy Sedaris as a guineafowl

🦁 Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala | Shahadi Wright Joseph as young Nala

🐛 Billy Eichner as Timon

🐒 Chance the Rapper as a bushbaby

🦁 Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar

🦁 Donald Glover as Simba | JD McCrary as young Simba

😂 Eric Andre as Azizi

😂 Florence Kasumba as Shenzi

🦁 James Earl Jones as Mufasa

🐵 John Kani as Rafiki

🦜 John Oliver as Zazu

🐀 Josh McCrary as an elephant shrew

😂 Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari

🦁 Penny Johnson Jerald as Sarafina

🦌 Phil LaMarras as a  topi

🐗 Seth Rogen as Pumbaa

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

I hope you don’t have Disney fatigue because we have two more remakes to discuss. Up next is The Lion King from 2019. This was my first viewing:

•  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  S  P  O  I  L  E  R  S  •  A  H  E  A  D  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •

Right away this looks like a one of those nature documentaries that Disney makes from time to time. I feel like I’m on the African savannah watching real animals live their lives. No matter how you feel about the cast or story, you have to admit the CGI is impeccable. I had heard some criticism about how the mouths look.  Now that I’ve seen the movie myself, I can contribute to the discussion & say I wasn’t bothered by how the talking mouths looked. They didn’t look any different than the animals in The Jungle Book. That being said, I could see why it was bothersome. The CGI is so realistic that it’s hard to believe those are the same talking animals from the 1994 movie.

Let’s look at some of the cast. Number one, I want to shine a spotlight on Shahadi Wright Joseph who reprised her role as young Nala from the musical. I could be wrong, but I’m only aware of one other actor who has played the same role on Broadway & onscreen: Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. At a young age, she is already in exclusive company. What an accomplishment! Number two, I don’t mind new voices for familiar characters as long as they do the role justice. In this case there aren’t too many weak links, but I’ll go into more detail later on. What I really want to say is that bringing James Earl Jones back to voice Mufasa was 100% the right choice. Some will agree, & others will disagree. I realize that sticking with the same voice might hold the remake back from being its own unique project, & I respect that criticism. However, I’m a selfish Disney fan, & hearing James’ voice was a nice dose of nostalgia. On the flip side of the coin, I had to watch him die as Mufasa for a second time which was awful. 😭

I need a moment to squeal about young Simba. HE IS SO FREAKING ADORABLE!! 😭💕

I really liked the dark tone of the Be Prepared scene, but it wasn’t as good as it should’ve been vocally. Jeremy Irons’ role was always going to be a big one to fill. Chiwetel Ejiofor was up to the task with his superb acting, but his singing voice was lacking. He himself has joked that he was “talking in a tuneful way.” That’s just not good enough for an iconic Disney villain song. A comment on YouTube said it best: “DUDE I WAS WAITING FOR HIM TO SING WHEN I REALIZED THAT HE WAS ALREADY SINGING?????”

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLQ6SRH90s4

Reliving Mufasa’s death was HEARTBREAKING! 💔 Scar killing his brother then pinning the blame on his young nephew is still one of the cruelest moves in Disney villain history. Simba’s little face & body language are too much to handle, especially with CGI that looks WAAAY too real. 😭

I didn’t watch The Lion King as a child, but I did grow up on Timon & Pumbaa so those two characters are near & dear to my heart. I knew Seth Rogen would do a good job as Pumbaa, but I had doubts about Billy Eichner from the moment he was cast as Timon. He did have some good moments, but I didn’t love the performance as a whole. In my personal opinion, his singing voice & talking voice had the same problem: they didn’t match the character. I will say his singing was surprisingly good; not perfect but better than I was expecting. Seth isn’t a trained singer, but Pumbaa is the kind of character that can get away with below average vocals, although I would’ve preferred them to be a bit better. As a pair, Billy & Seth sounded their best during The Lion Sleeps Tonight & Can You Feel the Love Tonight. Hakuna Matata was always going to be a losing battle because JD McCrary & Donald Glover were not messing around with their vocals. So good!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MxulhivCvI

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I82PFHKgY2c

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZr-VTULYQ8

Donald Glover is a fantastic Simba. I only have one teeny tiny complaint: His voice doesn’t match the CGI character during his years in the oasis with Timon & Pumbaa, specifically the scene when Nala finds him. His voice has a teen/young adult tone to it while his lion body looks very intimidating. Once he’s in the Pride Lands ready to take back his crown, his voice becomes more serious & matches the way he looks. I want to clarify that this isn’t Donald’s fault because that’s exactly how Matthew Broderick sounded in the original film. The CGI just looks so realistic that the believability fades a little bit when you hear Simba talk during that point in the story. The cartoon movie got away with it because it was, well, a cartoon.

In the remake, Can You Feel the Love Tonight was sung by Simba & Nala. Obviously the crew wasn’t going to put Beyoncé in a musical scene & not have her sing. I’m not a big fan of the pop nuances but respect that she was allowed to make the song her own. I felt the same way about the brand new song Spirit. It’s a good song on its own but sounds like something that should play over the closing credits, not during the movie. According to composer Hans Zimmer, that was its original spot before a last minute change. Personally I think that move was a mistake, but it doesn’t sound horrible. I’m just not convinced that it belongs.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=civgUOommC8

Easter egg alert! When Timon & Pumbaa come face to face with the hyenas, the meerkat sings Be Our Guest to distract them, a familiar tune from Beauty and the Beast.

In the beginning of the movie when young Nala & Simba wander into the elephant graveyard, they’re attacked by a group of hyenas led by Shenzi. At the end when Scar and the hyenas take on Simba & the lionesses, Nala faces off against Shenzi. This is her chance to get revenge as an adult, & the victory does indeed land in her corner. Gotta love that storytelling!

Everything looked so realistic that I started to feel bad for Scar at the end. I had to snap out of my CGI trance & remind myself how evil he’d been for the last two hours. Don’t fall for the trap & feel pity! He’s one of the best Disney villains because he’s one of the worst Disney villains.

💬 Closing Thoughts: Animal-led movies have to be perfect, like The Jungle Book, otherwise I lose some interest & rewatch it very little, if at all. The original Lion King is a classic so the remake had to be perfect. It came close . . .

It goes without saying that James Earl Jones was perfect as Mufasa, & his Queen Sarabi was also perfect, her voice provided by Alfre Woodard. Chiwetel Ejiofor was perfect as talking Scar, but his singing wasn’t strong enough for Be Prepared. JD Mcrary was perfect as young Simba, & Donald Glover was perfect as adult Simba. Shahadi Wright Joseph was perfect as young Nala. Beyoncé was good as the voice of adult Nala; I’m just not convinced that her style of singing meshed with the soundtrack. John Oliver was perfect as Zazu as was John Kani as Rafiki. Seth Roger was great as Pumbaa, but his singing could’ve been better. Billy Eichner was just okay as the voice of Timon. The hyenas were perfect. Eric Andre & Keegan-Michael Key were a comedic duo as Azizi & Kamari while Florence Kasumba voiced their fierce leader Shenzi. The CGI was unbelievably realistic. Seriously, it felt like I was watching real animals act out a classic Disney story. This was a stunning movie with an almost perfect cast & almost perfect soundtrack. It is so annoying that it came so close to perfection but missed the cut because of a few fixable issues, much like Beauty and the Beast. The problem with a remake not being perfect is that there’s a perfect original movie to watch instead. This movie won’t be ranked high, but it doesn’t deserve to be ranked super low either so expect it to land somewhere in the middle.

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 52% Critics | 88% Audience

🏆 Major AwardsBest Visual Effects Oscar nomination (Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Elliot Newman, & Robert Legato) | Best Animated Feature Film Best Original Song – Motion Picture (Spirit – Beyoncé, Ilya Salmanzadeh, & Labrinth) Golden Globe nominations | Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual MediaBest Pop Solo Performance (Spirit – Beyoncé), Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (Hans Zimmer), & Best Song Written for Visual Media (Spirit – Beyoncé, Ilya Salmanzadeh, & Labrinth) Grammy nominations

❓ Original or Remake: I will definitely rewatch the remake, but this battle is a no brainer. The Original is superior!

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TavVZMewpY

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

Cinderella 2015 | Movie Review

The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast 2017 | Movie Review

Christopher Robin 2018 | Movie Review

Dumbo 2019 | Movie Review

Aladdin 2019 | Movie Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019 | Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp 2019 | Movie Review

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿

• 🌍 •🌤 •🍃 •🦜 •🐒 •🦁 •🐛 •🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 • 🐒 • 🦁 • 🐛 • 🐗 • 🌍 • 🌤 • 🍃 • 🦜 •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Video: NEW Kiwi Starfruit Refresher + Lemonade + Star Drink | Starbucks Review

• Art Blog

• Goodreads

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• Twitter

• Youtube