“A Line in the Sand” by Teri Wilson | Book Review

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“When his Uncle Henry retires, Max Miller moves to Turtle Beach, North Carolina, to take over his aquarium and sea turtle hospital. Little does he know the business is struggling, and he’s being called in to captain a sinking ship.

After a recent heartbreak that left her feeling lost, Molly Prince is desperately trying to find her direction in life. That’s easier said than done when you’re distracted by a new puppy named Urusla and overbearing advice from parents who own the beachfront house you’re living in.

Max and Molly meet during a near-drowning incident and feel instant attraction, but their acquaintance is quickly put to the test when uptight Max decides an aquarium is no place for a mermaid and her puppy, with or without the lobster costume. His first day on the job is a disaster, and he realizes his rash decision cost the aquarium its heart and soul. The town points their justified anger towards him, and he almost caves, but there’s something about Molly’s attitude that puts his defenses back up. He sticks by his decision and tries to manage the financial mess in front of him without thinking about the blonde mermaid who happens to be his next door neighbor. When things start to look up thanks to a fundraising idea from Molly and the unique ability of her puppy to sniff out sea turtle nests, the pair realize they might have no choice other than working together. Will they be able to get along and save a business they both love, or has the sun set on their chance at both friendship and romance?”

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

I don’t often dive into the romance genre, pun intended, but “A Line in the Sand” spoke to my inner child. As a 90s baby and 2000s kid, I was obsessed with Aquamarine, H2O: Just Add Water, and Lisa Frank. Summers were reserved for waking up early and swimming in the pool for at least three hours. Needless to say Teri Wilson’s romance between a marine biologist and mermaid might as well have been plucked from the imaginations of millenials. 

There were side elements that gave this book potential as a nice summer read. The North Carolina island setting almost made me feel positive towards summer, which is a feat if you know me as the cold-loving November baby that I am. The snippets of the senior citizen activity agenda had me feeling exhausted; that lively group put my sedentary life on blast, and I’ll admit I felt shamed into being more busy. Ethel Banks, Opal Lewinsky, and Mavis Hubbard, known around town as “Charlie’s Angels,” were hilarious, always sticking their noses where they don’t belong and trying to move things along between a certain couple. My favorite part was learning about the day-to-day operations of the aquarium and sea turtle hospital. If the Angels are giving a tour with complimentary frozen Milky Way lattes anytime soon, count me in!

Unfortunately this is where the aquatic fun ends. Even though it was supposed to be the crowning jewel, the romance was a huge letdown. There was a muddle of tropes: several handfuls of enemies to lovers with a dash of fake dating and insta-love. I don’t mind tropes, but pick a lane if none of the scenarios are going to go far enough to be worth the time. Everything felt skin deep and not fleshed out enough to make me feel invested in Max and Molly’s relationship. I was left feeling “meh” which is probably why I felt irrationally irritated by the overuse of Ursula’s breed “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.” I know that breed is special to the author, but I think Ursula’s adorable face on the cover and the first or second mention of the full name is enough. I also didn’t love Molly as a character, although her love of The Great British Bake Off was a redeeming trait. She came off as petty and whiny at times which annoyed me as someone who’s more like Max, very serious and a little awkward in situations meant to be loose and fun.

I was much more invested in the last fourth of the book and flew through it so my rating is rounding out to three stars. This was not a new favorite, but perhaps it will work for readers more acquainted with the genre. I would recommend this book to romance fans but only those who genuinely enjoy an easy, fluffy read. Think of it as the literature version of a Hallmark movie, and you should be fine. Play an ocean ambience video for extra beachy vibes!

-> -> -> -> -> OUT ON AUGUST 2ND! <- <- <- <- <-

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Content Breakdown: 

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

Alcohol: Rosé, Whisky, Wine, general mentions of alcohol, & one instance of being drunk

Language: Molly uses the term “lady bits” while referring to her mermaid tail.

Ethal, Mavis, & Opal wear sun hats to SandFest, two of which say “Cheers Beaches” & “Resting Beach Face.”

Ethel & Opal argue over a game of Scrabble because one of them wants to use “vayjayjay” as a word.

Steaminess: Ethel Banks remarks in chapter 5 that Max is “even more good-looking dry than he is wet,” referring to his appearance after nearly drowning at the dog beach. 

Max and Molly constantly admire and think about each other’s physical assets (i.e. Max’s abs & Molly in her clamshell bustier & mermaid tail). Their physical contact stays in the realm of hand holding, hugging, almost-kissing, & kissing.

Toxic Relationship: There are several mentions of Molly’s previous boyfriend who cheated on her.

Violence: Max has a complicated relationship with his Uncle Henry; in chapter 3, he’s upset & contemplates killing Henry for real, though it’s not a serious threat. 

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🌟 Find author Teri Wilson here:

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“Gilded” by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

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“Though 18-year-old Serilda Moller has lived in the town of Märchenfeld her whole life, most of the townsfolk choose to ostracize her. Cursed by the god Wyrdith before her birth, Serilda’s eyes are covered by the golden wheel of fate and fortune, and she possesses the ability to spin fantatsical tales, earning a reputation as an impulsive liar. One night under the Snow Moon, she lies to the wrong person, the Erlking, and changes the trajectory of her small town life. Now she is at his mercy, forced to answer his call every full moon to enter his haunted castle and spin straw into gold. A mysterious boy comes to her aid the first time, but even though he’s slowly falling in love with her, his magic cannot be given away for free. It’s apparent that the Erlking will never be satisfied, and Serilda is quickly running out of currency to continue paying the price of magic. Will she find a way out of her predicament, or will she be forever bound to Erlkönig and Adalheid Castle?”

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The beginning of “Gilded” was promising, so much so that I was prepared to hand out a five-star rating. I would highly recommend the audiobook, which I listened to all the way through; Rebecca Soler did a fantastic job as the narrator, making me feel like I was being read a fairytale before bed each night. The winter setting is cozy, and the darkness of the story kept me on the edge of my seat. I also appreciate the way foreshadowing was used. In chapter two, Serilda’s students comparing her storytelling to spinning straw into gold, transforming their dull lives in the town of Märchenfeld into something special. A second example is the moss maidens Meadowsweet and Parsely gifting jewelry to Serilda in chapter five; the crest on the ring and picture in the locket end up being significant clues that tie everything together. 

I was enchanted and ready to be taken on a immerisve journey for 500 pages . . . until chapter ten. Despite dark subject matter that toed the line, it’s the romance that lost me. It fell into the insta-love category and took me out of a world that had previously enraptured me. Never once did I feel a spark between Gild and Serilda. I wasn’t invested and found myself reading at a slower pace whenever they shared a chapter. I understand that his century-long loneliness as a poltergeist and her past with bullying gave them a connection as outcasts, but their intimacy progressed too quickly. The ending was wrapped up in their relationship, and I’m not sure there’s any part of it I liked. I sincerely believe a slow-burn romance would’ve suited this dark fairytale; instead an insta-love story weighed down an otherwise promising book.

Despite my disappointment, I’m giving this book 3 stars, and the completionist in me plans on reading the sequel. If you’re looking for a wintery read and like the idea of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, give “Gilded” a try. Maybe the insta-love won’t bother you as much as it bothered me. Beware, this book is heavily inspired by German folklore and extremely dark. I’m shocked that there are no trigger warnings and did my best to cover everything down below so you’re fully prepared for the amount of blood & violence. 

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Trigger Warnings:

Abandonment – Serilda’s mother left when she was a young child. It’s mentioned throughout the book but addressed directly in chapter 17, starting on page 154.

Abortion – Though an abortion is not performed, it is used as a threat.

Bullying – Serilda’s experience with bullying due to her appearance is mentioned throughout the book.

Blood & Violence – If you can’t stand even a hint of blood, don’t read this book. There is blood and violence in most of the chapters.

Death & Suicide – Death is a major theme throughout the book, including the death of children. Chapter 49 is the most disturbing in my opinion because it deals directly with children’s dead bodies. There is a brief mention of suicide on page 178 and miscarriage and stillbirths on page 325.

Discipline – I know this isn’t always a bad or triggering subject, but on page 10, Madame Sauer grabs a willow branch and threatens to strike Serilda’s hands, bringing back painful memories from her school days. It’s briefly mentioned again on page 170. I wanted to note this because in my opinion, it’s a controversial and borderline abusive method of discipline.

Hunting & Trophies – There are frequent mentions of the Erlking hunting for magical creatures as sport; he mounts some of them on the walls of his castle and keeps others chained in cages.

Kidnapping & Missing Children – The Erlking is known for luring children from their homes & leaving their lifeless bodies at the edge of the Aschen Wood, sometimes keeping their spirits as prisoners in his castle.

Supernatural – If you’re easily creeped out, be aware that there are mentions of demons, appearances by ghosts who bear the wounds that caused their death, & eery creatures such as the Nachtkrapp, a raven with no eyes.

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Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: In order to be thorough, there will be spoilers in this section.

Alcohol – There are approximately 10 pages that mention alcohol and drinking, possibly a few more, but nothing too extreme – Pages 3, 103, 112, 134, 269, 280, & 326 

Blood, Violence, & Death – There are approximately 132 pages that mention blood, violence, and/or death, ranging from brief to descriptive & disturbing.

Page 2 – The Erlking shoots an arrow that pierces the wing of the god Wyrdith in beast form; there’s mention of bloodied feathers.

Page 12 – Serilda is daydreaming about the Erlking’s Snow Moon hunt, imagining that “after their demonic ride, there will be feasting on what beasts they’ve captured, and drinking of mulled wine spiced with the blood . . .”

Page 14 – Serilda tells the children “”the only way to kill off a Nachzehrer is by putting a stone into its mouth. That will keep it from gnawing on its own flesh while you cut off the head.”

Pages 17 to 20 – Serilda tells a story about the Erlking bringing lost children to his queen Perchta who longs to be a mother. Once they grow out of babyhood, she tires of them, & he takes them to the forest & kills them. The child in this particular story has his throat cut by a hunting knife.

Page 37 – A female ghost riding with the Snow Moon hunt has blood stains down the front of her tunic, seemingly from the gash in her throat which was the cause of her death.

Page 41 – Brief mention of a hypothetical bargain signed in blood

Page 43 – Serilda is thinking about the rumors that the Erlking murders children, how in the past children’s corpses were found at the edge of the forest, often picked clean by crows.

Page 47 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story about a water nix who bites off fingers

Page 48 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story in which she brandishes a lethal fire iron & stabs her enemies, including one of the Erlking’s hellhounds

Page 55 – The first appearance of the Erlking’s servant Manfred, a ghost with an iron chisel sticking out of his left eye socket & a beard soaked in blood. He appears frequently so his appearance is described more than once.

Page 59 – The carriage Serilda rides in is made of a beast’s ribcage, the lantern out of his jaws & skull.

Page 65 – A young ghost servant of the Erlking is noticed by Serilda. She speculates that the bruises on his neck might be evidence of abuse from when he was alive or his cause of death.

Pages 65 & 66 – One of the Erlking’s hellhounds breaks loose and attempts to attack Serilda so he puts it down with an arrow which strikes through one of its eyes and jaw.

Page 71 – The Erlking’s castle is full of taxidermied creatures; the different heads & bodies are discussed throughout Chapter 9. 

Pages 73 to 74 – There is mention of tapestries depicting the brutality of the Erlking’s hunts.

Pages 76 to 77 – If Serilda cannot spin straw into gold, the Erlking threatens to mount her head and that of her father on his castle walls.

Page 80 – Brief mention of bloodstained walls which is what Serilda thought the Erlking’s dungeons would have

Page 83 – A panicked Serilda wonders how the Erlking will cut off her head, with an axe or a sword?

Pages 103 to 105 – Serilda tells another story in which the Erlking kills a child, this time by stabbing with an arrow.

Pages 118 to 119 – Mention of a tapestry depicting a stag bleeding from multiple arrow wounds

Pages 122 to 123 – Serilda is attacked by a creature with a demon face, something known as a Drude; his claws draw blood.

Page 125 – Mention of bloody footprints & a pool of blood in the throne room where Serilda is walking

Page 134 – Mention of the dried blood on Serilda’s cheek

Pages 140 to 141 – Serilda & Leyna talk about Nachzehrer, creatures that eat people & their own body

Page 161 – Serilda has a beautiful dream about some kind of celebration at a castle which suddenly turns into blood spilling from under the gates and into the lake

Page 165 – Brief mention of a wolf pack taking chickens & goats from a local farm

Pages 177 to 178 – Serilda starts to tell the school children a story about seeing a Nachzehrer, freshly risen from the grave, who had already chewed off his burial shroud and right arm

Page 178 – Brief mention of suicide, Fricz explains that someone who commits suicide could potentially become a Nachzehrer

Page 178 – Brief mention of Serilda remembering the screams & bloody footprints from Adalheid Castle in Chapter 14

Page 194 – The Crow Moon hunt catches up to a red fox who is swiftly killed with a cudgel. Serilda mentions that the hunt will end with a feast of their kills served on silver dishes in a pool of blood.

Page 194 – Back at the castle after the Crow Moon hunt, the hellhounds are lured back to their cages by bloody meat.

Page 195 – The Erlking grabs Serilda by the hair & threatens her with a blade against her throat.

Page 198 – The Erlking strikes his blacksmith, throwing him into a wall.

Page 198 – After his latest prank, the Erlking gives orders for the castle poltergeist to be strung up with rope in the dining hall.

Page 199 – The Erlking theartens Serilda, saying “Either this straw will be gold come morning or it will be red with your blood.”

Page 209 – Serilda continues her story from chapter 12, mentioning once again the prince who is badly wounded and bleeding while watching the Erlking continously stab his little sister with an arrow.

Page 210 – In that same story, the great huntress Perchta is bleeding from an arrow wound inflicted by the prince.

Page 228 – The Erlking remarks that he won’t be gutting Serilda since all the straw in the dungeon has been spun into gold.

Page 231 – Two brief mentions of blood

Page 232 – Serilda mentions that if the Erlking finds out about her lies, he will kill her and mount her head on one of the castle walls.

Page 237 – A man appears in front of Adalheid Castle, seemingly wounded with blood spilling out of his mouth

Page 238 – Serilda runs into a goblin in the castle who begins to bleed from his neck; on that same page, Serilda mentions the stench of blood in the air.

Page 240 – Another mention of the smell of blood in Adalheid Castle

Pages 241 to 242 – Serilda runs into a woman who isn’t wounded at first, but suddenly a red line appears across her throat.

Page 261 – Serilda wants to know more about Adalheid Castle & “what had happened to leave its walls haunted by so many brutally murdered spirits.”

Page 261 – Brief mention of the Erlking killing mortals & stealing children

Page 266 – Serilda considers how she might kill the Erlking; she certainly can’t walk right up to him & stab him with his own hunting knife.

Page 268 – For the Spring Equinox celebration, the citizens of Adalheid decorate their doors with garlands made of animal bones.

Page 269 – A man with a cart full of live animals passes Serilda; the animals are left caged or tied to posts to await their fate during the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt. A cart of rabbits is added on page 272.

Pages 272 to 273 – Lorraine tells Serilda that trying to have a conversation with the Erlking during the Feast of Death will be “ . . . asking for him to skin you alive! To pluck out your eyeballs and feed them to the hounds. To tear your fingers off one by one and . . .”

Page 273 – Brief mention of the innocent children who disappeared because of the Erlking

Page 275 – Leyna tells Serilda that the live animals will be let loose for the hunt to chase down & kill; the meat is then thrown upon the likeness of the god Velos where the hellhounds feast upon it.

Page 279 – Serilda recognizes two ghosts riding with the hunt, describing them as “covered in their own blood”

Page 280 – Music is being played at the feast by “gore-splattered musicians”

Pages 280 to 281 – The live animals are let loose, running as fast they can from the pursuing hellhounds & hunters who are cheered on by a crowd of ghosts

Page 286 – Serilda sees a tapestry in Adalheid Castle that depicss a skeleton dressed as royalty and a small body ripped in two, identified as a female child from the pink dress & ringlet curls

Pages 287 to 288 – When a drude attacks Serilda, it gives her horrible visions: the Märchenfeld school on fire with children trapped inside, her father’s body being scavenged by birds, three of her young students being poked & prodded by goblins while locked in a cage, two other students being ripped to shreds by hellhounds, Leyna and her mother being attacked by Nachtkrapp, & Gild pinned like a moth to a spinning wheel.

Pages 288 to 289 – Gild fights with two Drudes, & there’s mention of blood & entrails.

Page 289 – Gild is bleeding from a wound on his scalp.

Page 290 – Gild explains to Serilda that Drudes can torture you for hours until your heart stops, when you can’t handle any more terror & give up.

Pages 292 to 293 – Gild drags his hand through his hair which smears his fingers with blood from his head wound. Serilda cleans the wound as best she can.

Page 304 – Another mention of the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt throwing the captured animals’ carcasses onto the effigy of Velos for the hellhounds to feast upon

Page 306 – Serilda catches a glimpse of the hellhounds fighting over the meat hanging from the likeness of Velos.

Pages 314 to 315 – Serilda cleans her shoulder wound caused by Drude talons, gouges caked in dried blood.

Page 325 – Mention of children dying from disease as well as mothers suffering a miscarriage or giving birth to a stillborn baby

Page 334 – Brief mention of blood

Page 364 – Serilda passes by two ghost gardeners, the man with shears sticking out of his neck & the woman with a crooked head, possibly from a broken neck.

Pages 365 to 366 – The Erlking shows Serilda his collection of caged beasts, looking miserable in their confinement; some even have untended wounds.

Pages 367 to 370 – The Erlking’s fellow hunters drag their latest catch into the gardens, a chained Tatzelwurm who is promptly put into a cage.

Page 405 – Brief mention of blood

Page 409 – Mention of the great huntress Perchta liking to toy with her prey, both animal or human, no torment enough to satisfy her bloodlust

Pages 414 to 417 – Serilda’s father returns as a Nachzehrer, a zombie covered in blood with visible bones. When he can’t get ahold of Serilda, he starts to eat his own finger. Madame Sauer suddenly appears and decapitates him with a shovel.

Page 417 – It is explained that Nachzehrer come back to life to eat their family members.

Page 420 – Brief mention of blood

Page 423 – Serilda asks a Nachtkrapp if he’s found any plump mice this morning, & then tells him to stay away from the hearts of the local children. 

Page 425 – A Nachtkrapp scratches Serilda’s hand & draws blood.

Chapter 49, Pages 433 to 442 – This might be the most disturbing chapter in the whole book. Five of Serilda’s favorite young students go missing after the Awakening Moon hunt. After a town-wide search, their bodies are found at the edge of the Aschen Wood. Sadly they are not peaceful & untouched; they all have holes where their heart should be, bones sticking out & covered in drying blood. 

Chapter 50, Pages 443 to 454 – Serilda continues her search because the fifth child’s body was not found. She ends up in Adalheid Castle, telling a gruesome story about a massacre from the past that killed all its inhabitants. That story triggers a pool of blood that opens a door into The Veil where the Erlking resides after dawn. Right before entering, Serilda sees a horrifying sight, a little girl’s body hanging from the throne room chandelier. 

Chapter 51, Pages 455 to 461 – There is mention of blood at the very beginning of the chapter, & the four children’s ghosts are by the Erlking’s side when Serilda finds him. 

Page 463 – Mention of ghosts with “battered bodies & bleeding wounds”

Pages 466 to 467 – The Erlking hung Gild outside the castle with chains, non-fatal but meant as a punishment.

Chapter 53, Pages 472 to 477 – The whole chapter revolves around the Erlking wanting to abort Serilda’s unborn child.

Page 475 – At the prospect of Serilda’s magic not returning, even if the fetus in her belly is removed, the Erlking says it would be better to slit her throat and be done with both of them.

Pages 477 to 478 – The Erlking shoots his barber in the heart, black blood spilling down his convulsing body.

Pages 482 to 483 – The Erlking stabs Serilda in the wrist with a gold arrow to curse her, putting her under his control; there is mention of blood from the wound.

Page 487 – Serilda once again notes the appearances of the ghosts around her at Adalheid Castle, each of them bearing the wound or wounds that killed them.

Page 490 – Gerdrut is revealed to also be a ghost with a hole where her heart used to be.

Gods & Magic

There are heavy magical themes, mentions of curses, potions, & witches. There are seven (mostly) fictional gods who are mentioned frequently: Eostrig-god of spring & fertility, Freydon, Hulda-god of labor, Solvilde-god of sky & sea, Tyrr-god of war & hunting, Velos-god of death & wisdom, and Wyrdith-god of fate, fortune, lies, & stories.

Grammar & Spelling

Page 140 – “It was a far cry tastier that the buttered rye bread . . .” instead of “It was a far cry tastier than the buttered rye bread . . .”

Language

By the old gods (as an exclamation) – Page 41

Damned – Page 312

Gods alive (as an exclamation) – Page 140

Sensual/Sexual Moments

Page 227 – A brief kiss

Page 312 – Extended kiss

Pages 358 to 361 – A kiss that turns into touching which leads to something more but fades to black. The only additional information is that he helped her get dressed before they fell asleep side by side.

Page 363 – She briefly daydreams about her night with him, imagining his body, his hands, & his mouth.

Pages 376 to 377 – She considers the opinion of society concerning unwed couples sleeping together & ponders whether or not she feels shame for sleeping with him; she concludes that she does not.

Page 469 – She realizes she’s with child after missing her period.

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🌟 Find author Marissa Meyer here:

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Revisiting Beauty and the Beast 2017

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🎥 Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

👗 Costumes by Jacqueline Durran

🎬 Directed by Bill Condon

🎞 Edited by Virginia Katz

🎼 Music by Alan Menken

📋 Produced by David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman

📝 Screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Stephen Chbosky

🌟 S T A R R I N G

👗 Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe

🐗 Dan Stevens as Beast / The Prince

☕ Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

👸🏻 Emma Watson as Belle

🕯 Ewan McGregor as Lumiére

💋 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette

🧙🏻‍♀️ Hattie Morahan as Agathe / Enchantress

🕰 Ian McKellen as Cogsworth

🎭 Josh Gad as LeFou

🔨 Kevin Kline as Maurice

💪🏻 Luke Evans Gaston

☕ Nathan Mack as Chip

🎹 Stanley Tucci as Cadenza

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 

Back in March 2017, I saw this movie in theaters & reviewed it. I’m going to revisit my original thoughts & see if I still feel the same way. This was my 2nd viewing:

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

Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The love story goes beyond girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy. Belle is the first human, not counting the enchanted objects, to look past Beast’s exterior. Her attention and kindness encourages him to become more human, making his inner transformation just as important as his outer change. They develop a friendship first and then fall in love. I am ashamed to say that despite being initially excited, I allowed myself to be swayed by critics giving their opinion based on the trailers. Once the movie was released and I heard great feedback from lifelong fans, I started to relax and get excited again. I finally saw the movie last Wednesday. When the title card filled the movie screen, I got chills and teared up. In that moment I realized how emotional the experience was going to be for my inner child.

• In the name of consistency, I have an obligation to tell you that fireworks go off over Beast’s castle instead of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We love a themed castle intro on this blog! I was less emotional in the beginning then I was in the movie theater back in 2017 because there wasn’t as much adrenaline running through me. To be honest, I was thinking of the things I didn’t like before & bracing myself for the movie to be much worse than I remembered. Boy oh boy was I in for a surprise! 

The sets are stunning. The village is like the picturesque interior of a snowglobe isolated from the rest of the world. There are golden, ornamental baroque details all over Beast’s castle, specifically French Rococo. Under the curse, the exterior is dark and dramatic; the word gothic comes to mind. As the centerpiece of the story, the enchanted rose is as striking as it needs to be. The theme is appropriately weaved into other parts of the film; Maurice attempts to pick a white rose from Beast’s garden, and Belle’s baby rattle is a red rose. Don’t even get me started on the final scene. The flower-draped ceiling is GORGEOUS!! The entire ballroom looks like springtime, airy & bright.

• Yes yes yes!!! This movie is indeed gorgeous, especially the scenes that take place in the castle. And that final ballroom scene? *faints from the beauty* 😍 

Belle is the same beloved character but with a few modifications. Her day-to-day outfits are a quirky mix of materials and patterns, and combat boots are her footwear of choice. The wardrobe update matches her new role as an inventor just like her father Maurice. The yellow ballgown is a simpler design than it’s 1991 counterpart, but when you see how it moves onscreen, doubts will fly out of your mind. The gold touches make it shine, and the skirt floats through the air as if it were weightless. The look wouldn’t be complete without the gold ear-cuff, a subtle nod to Belle’s unconventional style. There is no need to say much about the celebration dress. The way it looks and moves in the ballroom during the final scene will take your breath away. Belle’s hairstyles are simple but very beautiful. My personal favorite is her updo in the library scene accessorized with a blue headband. Of course I have to mention Beast’s wardrobe which goes through a transformation of its own; it becomes more refined and princely as the movie goes on. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran deserves a lot of credit because she came up with outfits for a character who is animated during most of the film. A lot of work went into making sure the animated garments had the depth and detail of tangible clothing. The animators did a phenomenal job.

• I mostly feel the same. I didn’t love the gold ear cuff as much this time around, but I can overlook that one small detail without much hesitation. I know the yellow dress is controversial, & I agree it could’ve been better. However, I don’t hate it as much as the majority. You know why? The celebration dress is stunning enough to erase past sins. The pure white gown embellished with romantic pink flowers is a springtime vision paired with the prince’s powder blue ensemble. 

Alan Menken is a musical genius so it’s a no-brainer that I like all of the new songs, especially Evermore. In terms of flow, Days in the Sun is a nice song, but it feels unnecessary. There is no nice way to say this so I’ll just rip off the band-aid. Many of the vocals are heavily edited, and I suspect it has more to do with lack of vocal ability than over-zealous audio editors. It is a fact that Dan Stevens hired a vocal coach to learn how to sing for this movie, and Emma Watson has never sung professionally. I am thrilled with their acting performances, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; they sound robotic and lack emotion. I found myself holding my breath every time they sang because I desperately wanted it to sound good but knew it probably wouldn’t. A few times I was pleasantly surprised. Emma did a good job with Belle (Reprise), and Beast sounded much better in the second verse of Evermore. I saw a comment on YouTube regarding Emma’s vocals that was well put. I can’t remember the exact words, but this is the basic idea: The original songs, written for an experienced singer, are above Emma’s capabilities. She sounded better singing the songs written for her portrayal of Belle. I had the same problem with Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson. Ewan has sung before in a film, and for the most part his vocals sound good. I know Emma can sing, and I think she was a great choice for Mrs. Potts. The issue is inconsistency. Sometimes the vocals sound good, and other times they sound heavily autotuned. Since both roles require a certain voice, it is possible that manipulation was required to help Ewan and Emma stay in character while singing. The song Beauty and the Beast is a turning point in the story, and Mrs. Potts’ singing voice ruins a bit of the magic in what is an otherwise beautiful scene. Listening to it again, the vocals sound better than I remembered, but there are still some parts that don’t sound as nice as they should. Knowing that Emma has a great voice makes this even more of a heartbreaking disappointment. I love the cast, but this movie is a musical. Acting and vocals should be split 50/50 when considering the potential actors. Perfection was well within reach for this film, and lack of vocal ability was the one and only roadblock. Consider the rave reviews that Josh Gad and Luke Evans are receiving. Why do you think that is? Not only are their acting performances spot-on, but their vocals are spectacular. That is why they are the most successful part of this musical film. I want to end my rant by mentioning that I find the entire soundtrack to be over-edited, even the experienced voices such as Kevin Kline. I would have preferred less effects and rough edges. At least the final result would have sounded more genuine.

• I have notes to add as well as some revisions:

I’m not sure what didn’t click the first time, but Days in the Sun is a lovely song which adds to the story of the objects. 

I still love the song Evermore. One detail I failed to mention is the 28-second instrumental intro which all Beauty and the Beast fans should know because it plays as the original 1991 movie begins; a shorter version opens the 2017 movie. I didn’t catch that connection until I rewatched the animated movie which is exactly why I’m watching both the originals & remakes for this series. I love those nerdy details! I still prefer Josh Groban’s version of the song, but considering Dan Stevens took voice lessons for this movie, he did a good job. My biggest complaint is the overediting. I know an effect was used to aid the Beast voice, but I don’t think his singing had to sound robotic as a sacrifice. 

I have the same complaint regarding Emma Watson as Belle. I will continue to say this over & over again: If she wasn’t going to have a singing double or go through intense vocal training, I would’ve preferred that autotune take a backseat to a soft, rough around the edges voice. Rewatching the movie gave me this epiphany: It sounds like Emma recorded the songs alone in a large room with major echo. It doesn’t match what Belle is doing onscreen, whether that be walking through the village or exploring the castle. There are a few parts that sound okay, but that’s just not enough. I’m seriously considering a petition to request that Disney rerecord the singing & use a light hand with editing. Honestly, that change would make it near perfect because I love everything else about this film.

The sound editing for Emma as Mrs. Potts & Ewan as Lumière isn’t as bad as I remembered. They are both experienced singers & sound great in character. The same goes for Kevin Kline who only sings one song How Does a Moment Last Forever, an emotional moment that tugs at the heartstrings. I think I was being nit-picky about the audio because of Beast & Belle’s voices, but now that I’ve calmed down, every other character was fine with only a few rough spots. 

Animation was the perfect medium for this story because it is a fairy tale that is not at all grounded in reality. When considering a live action version, you have to ask yourself if the story will translate. I commend the crew because I was a believer every step of the way. I like the realistic design of each enchanted object. They fit the style of the movie and still feel like the same beloved characters. I love the way the friendship develops between Beast and Belle.  There are so many amazing scenes I could mention such as the library and Belle’s childhood home in Paris, but I will stick with one. Up until the ballroom scene, I was fully invested in the budding friendship. During the waltz when Beast lifts Belle, I felt a strong wave of emotion and instantly knew the relationship had become a love story. I was worried about the transformation because I wanted to be in the moment; I didn’t want to only see Dan Stevens in a wig. I am so relieved that the scene came together because it cemented the couple’s chemistry. I know that Belle’s final quote is controversial, but I LOVED it. I found the playful moment to be cute and relatable.

👸🏻 Belle: “How would you feel about growing a beard?”  😘

🐗 Beast: “GROWL!”  😉

• Yes yes yes!!! I still agree with everything I said about the art direction, the enchanted object designs, & the relationship between Beast & Belle. Dan & Emma have great onscreen chemistry which worked well before & after the beast-to-prince transformation.

💬 Closing Thoughts: There are details that disappoint and frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. However, I can’t change anything so there’s no use dwelling on the negative. My emotional reaction speaks volumes, and I will definitely be watching this movie again. Please go and see it before you form an opinion. You might be pleasantly surprised! 

• Because of my rants about the singing & effects, you probably think this movie isn’t highly ranked. This is where I surprise both you & me. There are many things to consider. First, this film is close to being a shot for shot remake with very few changes, even in dialogue. Second, I was more emotional during the remake, crying at least three times; I only cried once during my rewatch of the animated movie. Third, I can say without hesitation that the animated movie is better because it has no vocal shortcomings. However, if the singing voices were fixed, I would choose the remake. GASP! I took this review one step further & timed how long Belle sings onscreen. In the span of 120 minutes, she sings for approximately . . . FOUR MINUTES!! That’s only 1/30th of the movie. Stepping back & looking at the big picture, her voice is an important one but wasn’t featured much in an otherwise great movie. Going the extra mile yet again, I watched the movie for a third time with my brother, a frequent movie watcher who is brutally honest. He’s not a fan of musicals, but at the end he told me the criticisms had been too harsh. He didn’t even cringe or say one negative thing the entire film! So, where does that leave my ranking? I won’t reveal anything right now, but you should be prepared for this movie to land very high on the list, higher than even I thought it would be.

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 71% Critics | 80% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: Best Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran) & Best Production Design (Katie Spencer & Sarah Greenwood) Oscar nominations

❓ Original or Remake: Repeating what I already said, my choice is the original, but if the singing voices & sound editing were fixed, I would choose the remake.

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Nl_TCQXuw

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

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

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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2018 Reading Wrap-Up

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For once, I completed my reading goal with time to spare & exceeded it by two. I set my goal at 55 and completed 57 books. Yay! 🎉 Now for the semi-disappointing news: I didn’t complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I could beat myself up, but reading is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Not all of the 2018 challenges matched up with what I wanted to read last year, and that is okay.

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📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read

📖 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste

📖 As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

📖 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

📖 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

📚 A Book in Translation

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book You Can Read in a Day

📖 Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

📖 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

📖 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Scream All Night by Derek Milman

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Athur Conan Doyle

📖 The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

📚 A Book by a Favorite Author

📖 The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie Bookseller

📖 Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

*Note: This category doesn’t (necessarily) count. Even though Hiddensee is on an IndieBound list, I didn’t read it because of their recommendation.

📚 A Banned Book

📖 N/A 

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative Nonfiction

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your Own

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch)

📖 The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel (Mexican)

*Note: The definition of “ethnicity” is different depending on who you ask so I relied solely on where an author was born. I didn’t include British authors because of my own family’s roots, but perhaps that was just overthinking on my part.

I also read:

📖 A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

📖 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts

📖 Cress by Marissa Meyer

📖 Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

📖 Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 In The Woods by Tana French

📖 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

📖 Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

📖 Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

📖 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

📖 The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

📖 The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

📖 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

📖 The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

📖 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

📖 Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

📖 We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

📖 Winter by Marissa Meyer

📖 Written on the Wind by Judith Pella

Total: 9(ish) Challenges & 57 Books

⬇️  Here are all of my 2018 reading-related links  ⬇️

2017 Wrap-Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

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📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Reunited, & It Feels So Good

Last night I stayed up late reading. In my mind I knew I should be a responsible adult & go to bed, but my heart told me to take advantage. It’s been awhile since I devoured a book so I resisted sleep for as long as I could, specifically until 1:30am. Goodbye reading slump! For those that are curious, I’m currently reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco. It is the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I am loving it so far. Speaking of books, my family visited Barnes & Noble Sunday night. I always know how depressed I will be looking at all the books I can’t afford, but I go anyway. My parents were kind enough to buy me a new book. THANK YOU!!!!! I chose Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, a novel I’ve been dying to read for months. I am a HUGE Scooby-Doo fan so I hope this mystery gang-inspired story lives up to my expectations. In regard to my Tuesday agenda, I am currently blogging on my typewriter while watching my favorite Almanzo & Laura episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Happy Tuesday! :)

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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All In

The final countdown is upon us fanboys & fangirls, the moment we’ve been waiting for since childhood: the Justice League will be on the big screen in one week! I am here to encourage peace before the chaos commences. DC community, respect your fellow fans. If your enthusiasm does not match that of someone else, please leave them alone and allow them to be happy. Marvel community, please don’t turn this into a war. No two fans are alike, but we all have one thing in common: we LOVE superheroes! I think both the Avengers and the Justice League would want us to be united, not divided. I am personally very excited and refuse to let anybody or anything to ruin this experience which is why I’m turning off all social media starting November 14th. I will be avoiding petty comments and reviews until I see the movie on the 16th because I want to form my own opinion without outside influence. If you’re not already jumping out of your skin with excitement, GET ON MY LEVEL!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_6yBZKj-eo

💪🏻 🦇 👑 🐠 ⚡ 🤖   J  U  S  T  I  C  E      L  E  A  G  U  E      A  L  L      I  N   💪🏻 🦇 👑 🐠 ⚡ 🤖  

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Wonder Woman Movie Review

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As a lifelong DC  fan, I have never doubted that the extended cinematic universe could reach new heights and achieve much more than superhero films from the past. Superman has never been my favorite hero, but I thoroughly enjoyed Man of Steel. I loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and was skeptical about change. However, Batfleck won me over instantly, and my heart nearly burst from fangirl excitement during my first viewing of Batman v Superman. Despite harsh criticism, Sucide Squad was a fun ride; I especially enjoyed the dark aesthetic and witty banter. Leading up to the latest DC film, I was confident that this would be their best effort yet. After seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen in 3D last night, I can say with certainty that it was everything I thought it would be and so much more.

Saying I loved the animated Justice League TV show growing up would be an understatement. I have vivid memories of running around my house with my brother and our friends pretending to be superheroes. There was no discussion of who was better, boys or girls. We were all strong heroes on the same team, saving the world one villain at a time. Why do I bring this up? Growing up with a brother, I always wanted to hang out with the boys. If they played hockey, I did too. If they rode their bikes down a hill, I did too. If they had a swimming race, I made my own lane and swam alongside them. I won’t lie and say I never got hurt and cried, but I can add that there were times when the need to prove myself was enough to ease the pain and dry up the tears. I know my brother and his friends thought I was a nuisance, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I never needed a visual of “girl power” to fill me with ambition and passion, but I understand why many girls and women crave it. I’m not one to get involved in political discussion, but I will say that I felt proud and inspired watching women kick butt.

⚠️   S P O I L E R S   A H E A D ! !   Y O U   H A V E   B E E N   W A R N E D ! !   ⚠️

The story is well written and deeper than what most would expect from a superhero movie. I appreciate the heroism that is showcased from men without superpowers. Even though the movie is fiction, it is a reminder of the sacrifice soldiers have made in wars past and present. I also appreciate the message about humanity which is relevant to the present. Diana believes that once Ares is dead, mankind will give up their desire to fight. Her heart breaks when she realizes the god of war is not controlling anybody. He plants ideas but is not entirely to blame for World War I. Steve encourages her not to focus on the men who are bad but rather hold on to the belief that there are good people, people with just intentions.

Speaking of Ares, the twist involving his identity is great. I didn’t have a clue who his human form was, and it was fantastic watching him battle his sister in “god form.” I am not the most knowledgeable DC fan so I had no idea who Doctor Poison was, but I liked her character. I mean, I liked her as much as you can like a villain. Perhaps I read too much into the portrayal, but I felt how her scars and insecurity led to her obsession with toxins and death. It is especially evident when Steve flirts with her while undercover; she feels desired and appreciated but quickly snaps out of it when he is distracted by Diana’s unexpected entrance.

Moving on to the side characters, each one of them contributed something special. Charlie, Chief, and Sameer provided not only entertaining banter but also courage and a whole lot of heart. Etta Candy was charming and made me laugh more than once. I love how inspired she was by Diana. When she sensed trouble and showed up in the alley with the shield and sword, I almost stood up and applauded. And then there are the Amazons. Their strength speaks for itself. The training scenes made me feel way too pumped to be sitting still. I wanted to swim laps and run a marathon. That is especially shocking if you know me well because I DO NOT run.

I want to give Chris Pine the credit he deserves for his portrayal of Steve Trevor. Steve has some doubt regarding his significance within the war, but he never gives up fighting and doing what he feels is right. His humility is refreshing and endearing; it reminds me of a certain Marvel hero by the name of Captain America. Near the end of the movie, he discovers a way to change the course of the war and puts thousands of lives above his own, cementing his value as a soldier and a person. (MAJOR SPOILER) His death, which brought tears to my eyes, was probably the most emotional scene. I do have a serious question though. Have we really seen the last of him??…

Last but not least, Wonder Woman herself. There was a lot of doubt about Gal Gadot because she is a relatively new name in the movie industry. I am not exaggerating when I say she has beat down all doubt and laid the criticism to rest. It was fascinating to pick apart her portrayal and find the nuances she brought to the character. As a child, Diana is curious and eager (credit to Lilly Aspell). As a teen, she is determined (credit to Emily Carey). As an adult, she is ready to combat any evil that might enter Themyscira. Once she ventures away from home, her naive view of mankind is shattered by the realization that their choice to fight one another is not controlled by Ares. Initially she wants to stop fighting, but once Steve’s encouraging words sink in, she accepts her new mission in life as a protector. She is a strong warrior ready to fight at any moment, demonstrated by her willingness to walk into German-controlled territory and protect innocent lives without hesitation. She also has a kind spirit and the willingness to seek the good in people. Her gentle side is seen when she handles Charlie’s PTSD with compassion and encouragement. Brava Gal!

🎶 I have to mention the genius that is Hans Zimmer. He is not the composer for this movie, but we have him to thank for Wonder Woman’s AMAZING theme music. I got chills when it first played. 🎶

🎬 Congratulations to the cast & crew on a job well done! I want to give a special shout-out to director Patty Jenkins. The finished results prove the effectiveness of her leadership. This is a career-defining film, and she should be very proud of the impact it is having on people around the world. 🎥

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo&list=PLVfin74Qx3tUT-xIY0_xefei1p3auVaCh&index=1

G O   S E E   T H E   M O V I E   R I G H T   N O W  ➡️   http://wonderwomanfilm.com   ⬅️

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Once Upon a Time Season 6 Finale

📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️ ✨ 📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️

I know this is a sad and confusing time for Oncers. I want to try and shed some positive light on the situation. When I first heard that Jennifer Morrison was leaving the show, I didn’t want to believe the news was true. Once it was confirmed, my heart shattered into a million pieces. To make life even better, it was not long after confirmed that five other cast members were departing (for a variety of reasons). My mind was blown, but not for the right reasons. What would the show be without the faith of Henry, the love of Charming and Snow, the strength of Belle, and the wit of Zelena?? All those characters bring something unique and special to the main cast. I went into watching the final episode of season 6 upset and a bit bitter towards the turn of events. However, I couldn’t be happier with the finale. The departing cast members were sent off with an ending worthy of a neatly tied bow. Before the actual ending played out, I was ready to hop on the bandwagon and protest that the show end there. [ S P O I L E R S   A H E A D  ! ! ! ] During the first scene, I had a strange feeling the dad was Henry. My suspicion was proved to be correct during the final scene. The show started with a little boy in possession of a book finding his mom and taking her on a mission to fulfill her destiny. After six seasons, the focus shifts into the future, a future where a little girl finds her dad and gives back his book entitled Once Upon a Time. I wasn’t expecting this twist, and I’m intrigued to see where season 7 leads. I know it feels lousy right now, but when have Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis ever let us down? Oncers, let’s put on a brave face and trust that OUAT will remain the same show we’ve all loved for the past six years. We still have Hook, Regina, & Rumple, and there are sure to be many new fairytale characters ahead.

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Farewell to Emilie de Ravin, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jared Gilmore, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, and Rebecca Mader. Each of you will be dearly missed by the OUAT community. Should the door open for one or all of you to return, Oncers will welcome you back with open arms. 💕

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📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️ ✨ 📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Beauty and the Beast 2017 | Movie Review

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🎥 Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

🎬 Directed by Bill Condon

🎞 Edited by Virginia Katz

🎼 Music by Alan Menken

📋 Produced by David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman

📝 Screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Stephen Chbosky

🌟 S T A R R I N G

👗 Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe

🐗 Dan Stevens as Beast / The Prince

☕ Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

👸🏻 Emma Watson as Belle

🕯 Ewan McGregor as Lumiére

💋 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette

🧙🏻‍♀️ Hattie Morahan as Agathe / Enchantress

🕰 Ian McKellen as Cogsworth

🎭 Josh Gad as LeFou

🔨 Kevin Kline as Maurice

💪🏻 Luke Evans Gaston

☕ Nathan Mack as Chip

🎹 Stanley Tucci as Cadenza

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The love story goes beyond girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy. Belle is the first human, not counting the enchanted objects, to look past Beast’s exterior. Her attention and kindness encourages him to become more human, making his inner transformation just as important as his outer change. They develop a friendship first and then fall in love. I am ashamed to say that despite being initially excited, I allowed myself to be swayed by critics giving their opinion based on the trailers. Once the movie was released and I heard great feedback from lifelong fans, I started to relax and get excited again. I finally saw the movie last Wednesday. When the title card filled the movie screen, I got chills and teared up. In that moment I realized how emotional the experience was going to be for my inner child.

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

The sets are stunning. The village is like the picturesque interior of a snowglobe isolated from the rest of the world. There are golden, ornamental baroque details all over Beast’s castle, specifically French Rococo. Under the curse, the exterior is dark and dramatic; the word gothic comes to mind. As the centerpiece of the story, the enchanted rose is as striking as it needs to be. The theme is appropriately weaved into other parts of the film; Maurice attempts to pick a white rose from Beast’s garden, and Belle’s baby rattle is a red rose. Don’t even get me started on the final scene. The flower-draped ceiling is GORGEOUS!! The entire ballroom looks like springtime, airy & bright.

Belle is the same beloved character but with a few modifications. Her day-to-day outfits are a quirky mix of materials and patterns, and combat boots are her footwear of choice. The wardrobe update matches her new role as an inventor just like her father Maurice. The yellow ballgown is a simpler design than it’s 1991 counterpart, but when you see how it moves onscreen, doubts will fly out of your mind. The gold touches make it shine, and the skirt floats through the air as if it were weightless. The look wouldn’t be complete without the gold ear-cuff, a subtle nod to Belle’s unconventional style. There is no need to say much about the celebration dress. The way it looks and moves in the ballroom during the final scene will take your breath away. Belle’s hairstyles are simple but very beautiful. My personal favorite is her updo in the library scene accessorized with a blue headband. Of course I have to mention Beast’s wardrobe which goes through a transformation of its own; it becomes more refined and princely as the movie goes on. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran deserves a lot of credit because she came up with outfits for a character who is animated during most of the film. A lot of work went into making sure the animated garments had the depth and detail of tangible clothing. The animators did a phenomenal job.

Alan Menken is a musical genius so it’s a no-brainer that I like all of the new songs, especially Evermore. In terms of flow, Days in the Sun is a nice song, but it feels unnecessary. There is no nice way to say this so I’ll just rip off the band-aid. Many of the vocals are heavily edited, and I suspect it has more to do with lack of vocal ability than over-zealous audio editors. It is a fact that Dan Stevens hired a vocal coach to learn how to sing for this movie, and Emma Watson has never sung professionally. I am thrilled with their acting performances, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; they sound robotic and lack emotion. I found myself holding my breath every time they sang because I desperately wanted it to sound good but knew it probably wouldn’t. A few times I was pleasantly surprised. Emma did a good job with Belle (Reprise), and Beast sounded much better in the second verse of Evermore. I saw a comment on YouTube regarding Emma’s vocals that was well put. I can’t remember the exact words, but this is the basic idea: The original songs, written for an experienced singer, are above Emma’s capabilities. She sounded better singing the songs written for her portrayal of Belle. I had the same problem with Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson. Ewan has sung before in a film, and for the most part his vocals sound good. I know Emma can sing, and I think she was a great choice for Mrs. Potts. The issue is inconsistency. Sometimes the vocals sound good, and other times they sound heavily autotuned. Since both roles require a certain voice, it is possible that manipulation was required to help Ewan and Emma stay in character while singing. The song Beauty and the Beast is a turning point in the story, and Mrs. Potts’ singing voice ruins a bit of the magic in what is an otherwise beautiful scene. Listening to it again, the vocals sound better than I remembered, but there are still some parts that don’t sound as nice as they should. Knowing that Emma has a great voice makes this even more of a heartbreaking disappointment. I love the cast, but this movie is a musical. Acting and vocals should be split 50/50 when considering the potential actors. Perfection was well within reach for this film, and lack of vocal ability was the one and only roadblock. Consider the rave reviews that Josh Gad and Luke Evans are receiving. Why do you think that is? Not only are their acting performances spot-on, but their vocals are spectacular. That is why they are the most successful part of this musical film. I want to end my rant by mentioning that I find the entire soundtrack to be over-edited, even the experienced voices such as Kevin Kline. I would have preferred less effects and rough edges. At least the final result would have sounded more genuine.

Animation was the perfect medium for this story because it is a fairy tale that is not at all grounded in reality. When considering a live action version, you have to ask yourself if the story will translate. I commend the crew because I was a believer every step of the way. I like the realistic design of each enchanted object. They fit the style of the movie and still feel like the same beloved characters. I love the way the friendship develops between Beast and Belle.  There are so many amazing scenes I could mention such as the library and Belle’s childhood home in Paris, but I will stick with one. Up until the ballroom scene, I was fully invested in the budding friendship. During the waltz when Beast lifts Belle, I felt a strong wave of emotion and instantly knew the relationship had become a love story. I was worried about the transformation because I wanted to be in the moment; I didn’t want to only see Dan Stevens in a wig. I am so relieved that the scene came together because it cemented the couple’s chemistry. I know that Belle’s final quote is controversial, but I LOVED it. I found the playful moment to be cute and relatable.

👸🏻 Belle: “How would you feel about growing a beard?”  😘

🐗 Beast: “GROWL!”  😉

💬 Closing Thoughts: There are details that disappoint and frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. However, I can’t change anything so there’s no use dwelling on the negative. My emotional reaction speaks volumes, and I will definitely be watching this movie again. Please go and see it before you form an opinion. You might be pleasantly surprised! :)

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvW_L8sTu5E

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Beauty and the Beast Artwork ➡️ Tale as Old as Time

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Revisiting My Review of Beauty and the Beast in 2020

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

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

– Lauren Michele <3

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Musical Tag

Musical Tag Thumbnail

This is the musical tag.  If you are not interested in musicals, I would suggest that you stop reading and stay tuned for my next blog post.  If you would like to watch the Youtube version, click the following link: https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE

If you are prepared to read, proceed.  :)

Q: What is your favorite stage musical?

A: I have never seen a musical performed by a professional group.  However, I saw a homeschool group from my childhood city perform plays and musicals, and they did an excellent job.  The productions were so well done, they might as well have been professional.  Brava!

Q: What is your favorite musical film?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNUOg2ajE

***Note: I added the following question.

Q: What is your favorite animated musical film?

A: “Prince of Egypt”

“Prince of Egypt” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmBDY-fSlIs

Q: What is your favorite musical performance?

A: I think this question refers to live productions, but that does not apply to me.  I am changing the context to my favorite singular performance within a musical film: “Singing in the Rain” performed by Gene Kelly.

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

Q: What is your favorite genre of musicals?

A: Every era has at least one good musical, but most of my favorites come from the Post-Classical Era (Post 50s).

Q: Who is your favorite composer and/or lyricist?

A: Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, and Phil Collins.

Alan Menken Medley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-WhOZZstiU

Samples of Hans Zimmer’s Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgUhz2F0Mg

“Two Worlds” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGn4zSfw6K4

“On My Way” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDtBnTMpltM

Q: What is your favorite underappreciated musical?

A: All of the musicals I like are well-known and liked therefore I do not have an answer.

Q: What musical are you dying to see?

A: “Wicked”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Aladdin.”  Anything else would be icing on the cake.  :)

“Wicked” 2012 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrpLayS57cY

“Phantom of the Opera” 2013 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNWUdSxxnHM

“Aladdin” 2014 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4sl3sQPzgc&list=PL0kqHD3g0haHgDgqMW-5tX2k6U5rOiMMQ&index=14

Q: What musical did you not like?

A: I apologize to anybody who likes these two musicals.  I did not enjoy “Gigi” or “Cry-Baby.”  The character Gigi annoyed me , and I could not connect to the characters or storyline in “Cry-Baby.”

“Gigi” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH8aVaeHqq4

“Cry-Baby” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB1bLlguZVY

Q: What is the best musical adaptation?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

Q: What is the best original musical?

A: “Once”

“Once” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWJIylZ8VyM

Who is your favorite character from a musical?

A: Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Tradition” Performed by Tevye/Chaim Topol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

Q: What is your favorite song from a musical?

A: “Falling Slowly” and “I See the Light.”

“Falling Slowly” Performed Live by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPjCqb3igw

“I See the Light” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYbHzzWmKUs

Q: What is your favorite soundtrack?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into the Woods ” (2014 film), “Prince of Egypt”, and “Tarzan.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLTxj-kXhg0&list=PL6vJR5WPUWn_-zubC0hU4BuQVqmi_tJbM

“Into the Woods” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KId_A5H-BXw&list=PLuovSEX8xEHes6AJxPnrTcxShMEc9XOBi

“Prince of Egypt” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKN0XF8-3Q&list=PLrjhOUTfRro7ro9MjrNV_W5gwFCMbSxEu

“Tarzan” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4hVVn5OlnI&list=PL7FE43190CD86C300

Q: What musical would you love to see happen?

A: A musical based on the ABC TV show “Once Upon a Time”, a story about Disney characters set in modern times.

“Once Upon a Time” Season One Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QjaxiuIa7A

Q: Why do you like musicals?

A: Musicals were a normal part of my life growing up as a dancer, and they still hold a special place in my heart.

Q: Describe yourself using one lyric from a musical?

A: Defying.  Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in my life, but I constantly find myself taking on challenges and completing what I thought was beyond my limits.

“Defying Gravity” Performed Live by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig

Q: Who is your favorite actress from a musical?

A: Julie Andrews.  QUEEN!!

“The Hills Are Alive” Movie Scene, “Sound of Music”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R462Ro5fqU

“Feed The Birds” Movie Scene, “Mary Poppins”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHrRxQVUFN4

Q: Who is your favorite actor from a musical?

A: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

“I Got Rhythm” Performed by Gene Kelly, “An American in Paris”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvglHa_P9BA

“Funny Face” Performed by Fred Astaire, “Funny Face”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xo1onGh3us

Here is a list of all my favorite musical films:

“Aladdin”

“Aladdin” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLa6y7Z2TE

“An American in Paris”

“An American in Paris ” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WAMZRCbpU

“Chicago”

“Chicago” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EpaMmF9WVU

“Fiddler on the Roof”

“Funny Face”

“Funny Face” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6VLdVrVQGQ

“Grease”

“Grease” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzWmxjYNfz4

“Hercules”

“Hercules” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ds88gvnEVo

“Into the Woods”

“Into the Woods” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Byk9Is3TjY

“Music Man”

“Music Man” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPL8Yb25T4

“Phantom of the Opera”

“Phantom of the Opera” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44w6elsJr_I

“Prince of Egypt”

“Singing in the Rain”

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36QiuRc_3I8

“Sound of Music”

“Sound of Music” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY6uw3WpPzY

“Tarzan”

“Tarzan” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfciC33t3M0

“Thoroughly Modern Millie”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCug0golA6c

If you would like to know more details surrounding my answers, watch the Youtube video (https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE).  If you love musicals, I highly recommend you do this tag.  It is so much fun!

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

– Lauren Michele <3

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