Category Archives: Reviews

An Update and Recommendations

One month late, what a slacker I am!

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Well, updates first, of course! I am not sure that I had mentioned it before, but I was hired to be a waitress at a Tavern/Bar back in March. Recently, though, I quit that job and now I have a new job! I am now a Video Game Advisor for GameStop, which is pretty awesome if you ask me!

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Also, I’ve FINALLY resumed work on my book, which I’ve been writing off and on for a few years now. My goal is to have the first draft completed by September 30th, 2016, that way I can start a brand new project for NaNoWriMo in November this year. =D

It was hard writing for awhile, with everything that was going on emotionally and mentally for me. Struggling through anxiety and medication and trying to figure out ways to handle situations that send me plummeting for an anxiety attack where pretty much my main villains when it came to story writing, because I was just SO obsessed trying to handle it, that I had a really hard time focusing on much else. Regardless, after working with my doctor and counselor to fix my medicine dosage, I am FINALLY feeling like my normal self (from before these anxiety problems started back in 2008) again, which is a huge relief and a lot of pressure off of my chest and mind.

That aside, I’ve been reading a lot. Have any of heard of the book “Awkward” by Svetlana Chmakova?

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She’s done a lot of manga books, but this was her very first work I’ve ever read. I absolutely loved not only the artwork but the story as well! It was such a great read and I plowed through it in under 24 hours. If you’re looking for a book to read before the summer is over, I highly recommend this one, especially if you enjoy everyday middle school life drama for a young girl trying to fit in.

Still not sure? Here’s the synopsis for it:

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope—Peppi—Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals—the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

And, if you’re looking for anything to Netflix binge-watch, they recently added a new Japanese Rom-Com by the title of “Good Morning Call”, and is based off of the shōjo manga of the same name, which is adorable! Synopsis? Easy: A high school girl finally gets her own apartment, but she has to share it with the most popular boy in school. No one can know they’re living together. Come on, now who doesn’t love that?

To be completely honest, I’m an absolute sucker for Asian Rom-Com’s. I just love watching them so much, with their exaggerated expressions and reactions and everything, it’s just so much fun!

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On that note, I’m going to head off. I just returned home from work and, speaking of Netflix, I want to watch some more of my shows.

Cheers everyone!

– Soleil

 

 

“A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale” Review

Recently, I finished reading a book by Miss Liz Braswell, an English-born American who began her career developing video games before becoming a young-adult fiction writer. While it’s not totally up-to-date you can find her at her website, The Messy Desk. She most famously known as her alter-ego Celia Thomson, author of “The Nine Lives of Chloe King” series.

Her most recent book is the one I happened to pick up. Published this past September 1st (2015) by Disney Press, “A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale” is a re-take on the Disney Classic version of the Aladdin tale.

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Now, my last book review was on “A Frozen Heart” by Elizabeth Rudnick (and, although it was a short review, you can find it here in my “Back to Blogging (Finally)!” post) which was also published by Disney Press. While I am always skeptical about a corporation like Disney taking a new crack at expanding or expounding on their original telling of a story, books like these are interesting to pick up and read, regardless of any contradictions that may arise. (Unless of course you’re a die-hard fan determined to never see any of the Disney-verse movies changed from their original storylines).

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Haha, see how I did that, with the Aladdin gif. Yeah, I’m clever.

Pulling back, this book asks a question of great importance, which Goodreads was clever enough to point out: “What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed?”

Liz Braswell’s version of the Disney Aladdin tale takes a much darker turn. When Aladdin retrieves the magic lamp for Jafar, the evil vizier actually GETS the lamp instead of Aladdin. The events that ensue create a new world of havoc for our heroes, with rebellion, death, and destruction becoming a daily piece of their lives. Jafar is proven to more than psychotic, Jasmine battles with herself concerning right and wrong, and Aladdin finds himself trying to keep her sane, along with every other character he interacts with.

I must admit, it is a much darker tale than I was expecting when I picked the book up. Death and violence is portrayed in a very un-Disney-like fashion of grotesque and avid imagery. For true-to-heart Disney fans who don’t want different perceptions of their favorite Classics, I would say this book may not be for you. However, for those who are of the more open-minded Disney fandom, I encourage you to definitely give this book a chance! For all its darkness and betrayal and evil deeds, it is well-written and a captivating read.

Want to read it for yourself? Find it HERE, on Amazon!

Look for my words again soon!

Sincerely Yours,

Soleil

 

Recap and Ramble

Recap on my last post “A Café Encounter”: I got the illustration job!

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Seriously, though, that is majorly exciting! I cannot wait to get started on this project.

In the meantime, I’ve started binge-watching the CW‘s “The Flash” on Netflix today.

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I’m already about halfway through the first season. And, you know, Season Two starts soon. January 19th, to be exact. The exact same day I resume my college classes. I think I can watch all of Season One by then. Downright easy.

Now, please, let me gush over the Sherlock “Christmas” special that aired New Year’s night and be a good fangirl. (Ahem, spoilers ahead).

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It was pure gold. A beautiful merge of classic and modern without missing a beat concerning wit, snark, action, mystery, and adventure. I’m sure that by now it is common knowledge that the episode is a flip-back between the modernized Sherlock we know and love and the Victorian-classic of the stories origins. I especially loved the mix of three Sherlock Holmes stories in the episode. I laughed at the orange pips because I knew exactly what they were, which story they were from, and what they meant. It was excellent! Truly.

I really don’t want to give a full recap because I don’t want to ruin the episode for anyone who missed it and is waiting for the second showing on January 10th (again on PBS). However, if you really want to read a full review, the Den of Geek has a fabulous article: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Review.

All I will say is that I am big admirer of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and of Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. The two really do bring the characters from the books’ pages to life and that is what I truly love and appreciate. So thank you both for your time and talent. Please continue to do an amazing and wonderful job.

And that is all for now. Please look for my words again soon!

Soleil

 

 

Back to Blogging! (Finally!)

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Did you miss me?!

It’s great to be back, I’ve really missed writing here. After NaNoWriMo and then suddenly FINALS at college (yeah totally forgot about those), I was really starting to wonder if I’d EVER get back to my little corner of the blog-o-sphere!

Whelp on to business! I just spent just about my entire day working on Astronomy assignments for my last class. This included:

  • 1 Lab
  • 2 Activities
  • Exam #3 (60 questions)
  • And the Final Exam! (120 questions!)

I can now successfully say that my mind is fried!

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This is how I felt ALL day!

Totally time for a break. Taking into consideration that I have to be up at about 6AM and it’s already 12:40AM, I should go to bed. But, I have to unwind. I can’t go to bed with a head full of astronomy problems dealing with mathematical equations, scientific notation, Hubble’s Law and so on.

Time to start a new book! I just finished “A Frozen Heart” by Elizabeth Rudnick. It is an expansion to the already famous Disney “Frozen” movie. The book follows Anna’s and Hans’ Points-of-View (POV) through alternating chapters, which “takes a sophisticated look at events of Frozen, exploring the couple’s backstories, motivations, and doomed relationship.”

Actually, it wasn’t that bad a of read and for any Disney (especially Disney “Frozen” fans) I would definitely suggest you pick it up. It’s relatively cheap. I got it at a BJ’s Wholesale Club for about $8 or $10. You can find it here on Barnes & Noble’s website for $9.73.

I’m thinking of picking up some of Brandon Mull‘s books. I have the first “Fablehaven” book and the first “Beyonders” book. I’m not sure, can I read “Beyonders” first or do I have to read “Fablehaven” so I can understand the world? Are they connected at all. Time to check the blurbs on the back of the books!

Anyway, off to read (although bed would be the smarter choice at this point…yay for lack of sleep later!)

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Look for my words again soon!

-Soleil

The History of Downtown Charleston, SC!

I’ve made a liar of myself. I never did make that 9/12 post I promised. For that, I apologize. In case it might happen again:

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So, I wanted to finish up my South Carolina trip recap in this post. Let the fun begin!

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This was my dinner at Jestine’s Kitchen in Downtown Charleseton. It includes some awesome Soul Food: Brown Sugar Glazed Ham, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, and cornbread with some real Southern sweet tea.
Trying to get to Jestine’s it started to downpour! Since Ant and I didn’t have an umbrella, we got soaked, of course. It was a cold rain, too.

 

 

 

 

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To the left we have me, soaked, and to the right we have me with my hair dried off and with an awesome flip to it now! Yay!  IMG_7881

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also took a really cool historical tour through a portion of Downtown Charleston in an open-carriage pulled by two mules.

St. Philip's Episcopal Church

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

It leans slightly to the left because of the earthquake that happened in the 1800s. Also, John C. Calhoun is buried here. In case you’re wondering, he’s the man who created the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Also, Edward Rutledge is buried here, too. He was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence and eventually became the 39th Governor of South Carolina.

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Powder Magazine

The Powder Magazine sat on the edge of the original Charleston city border, which was surrounded by a 17-ft. wall made of mud and palmetto logs. They built a wall around their city because 13 prior attempts to colonize the South (one of which was Roanoke) had failed. The Powder Magazine dates back to 1713 and has walls that are 2-3 feet thick, made of brick, and the roof was stored with sandbags in the case that if there was an explosion, the sound and impact would hopefully be muted. This same wall was very successful during the Revolutionary War. Charleston was able to hold out against the British for four years (compared to Boston and Philadelphia, which fell in under a year), because the wall was built from palmetto logs, which are very absorbent of water and so are very spongey. This sponge-iness allowed for difficulty to surmount and destory and/or invade the city. Since the British couldn’t break the fort walls, they retreated back North. This victory for the city of Charleston is why South Carolina features the Palemetto as its State Tree and on its State Flag.

Charleston had five major fires in its history, and the fire of 1861 wiped out a good portion of the city.

I also learned that in 1704, the Spanish sent several hundred men from St. Augustine, FL to Charleston o wipe out the southermost English colony, which at time was Charleston, SC. The Spanairds attempt failed but the English sent back a retaliation force and burnt St. Augustine to the ground. This allowed English domination in the South.

Then there is King’s Street. It’s the main shopping street of Downtown Charleston. Our tour guide informed us that King’s Street is the highest point in Charleston, at 11-ft. above sea level. Also, it’s named King’s Street because it was owned by the King of England. In fact, it is still owned by Queen Elizabeth II today, so if you live on or do business on King’s Street, you have to pay taxes to the Crown.

Other Fun Facts: Charleston is known as the Holy City because it has so many different churches and was one of the most religously diverse cities of its time in history (in the American Colonies, anyway). In fact, the oldest Synagogue in the country is here and was established back in 1750.

St. John's Lutheran Church

St. John’s Lutheran Church

St. John’s Lutheran Church was established in 1734 and is well-known for it’s great iron-work gates with date back to 1822. They are so signifigant because these gates are one of the few original iron-works in all of Charleston. That’s because during the Civil War, a lot of iron was taken from around the city to melt down into weapons for the war.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston.

The Unitarian Church was made in 1722. (For the record, I took this photo off of Google because my photo wasn’t nearly as good as this). I’ve never heard of Unitarians before this carriage tour. Unitarians believe that everyone goes to Heaven and that there is no Hell. Thomas Jefferson didn’t share their beliefs, so during the Revolutionary War, the Unitarian Church was used as a stable for the soldiers horses.

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These brick homes were built by the US Navy during WWII for soldier housing barracks. After the war, the Navy donated the buildings to the city to be used for whatever they wanted. The city ended up making them public housing.

Extra Fun Fact: All of the bricks used to make these homes, plus all of the old historic buildings in Downtown Charleston were handmade by the slaves on Boone Hall Plantation, which I featured in a previous post.

Old Marine Hospital

Old Marine Hospital

The Old Marine Hospital was designed by Robert Mills. After WWII it became the Jenkins Orphanage. One of the orphans who ended up living here created a dance that caught on and became well-known, even to today. It’s known as the Charleston, and was named after the city it came from.

The Old City Jail

The Old City Jail

Front of the Old City Jail

Front of the Old City Jail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city of Charleston chose the location of Potter’s Field for the Old City Jail because for the first 150 years of Charleston’s existence, it was the farthest end of the city’s limits. Potter’s Field was settled between Franklin and Archduke Streets and was where the poor and the people of no faith were buried.

Fun Fact: The College of Charleston tried to build a new library not too long ago, about a block away from the prison, and they dug up over 500 bodies. So, the area known as Potter’s Field still had bodies below the homes and streets and old city prison built on top of it.

This being said, I’ve definitely decided that if I EVER moved to Charleston, I would NEVER EVER live in the area known as Potter’s Field.

 

Moving on….

The Memminger Auditorium was once the Charleston high school, but before that it was a middle school. While it was a middle school, cannonballs were dug up on the school grounds, during a renovation project, that dated back to the Civial War! When the cannonballs were found, the bomb squad was called in because during the Civil War, some cannonballs were explosive rounds and they were worried they might still be live.

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The Daughters of Confederacy

The Daughters of Confederacy building hosts many Cival War artifacts, including some of Robert E. Lee’s hair.

Philadelphia Alley

Philadelphia Alley

This is Philadelphia Alley and it is where all of the Gentleman’s Duels took place. John Luke Wilson, a laywer of Charleston, wrote a book of 28 rules for the duels.

Fun Fact: The most common profession for a majority of the duelists were newspaper editors.

Extra Fun Fact: Charleston was once held captive by Blackbeard in the 1800s. His demands were that the townspeople of Charleston give him a chest of medicine in return for him to leave town. They complied. Our tour guide joked that their city is the only one in America who can lay claim to Blackbeard holding their city hostage for healthcare, haha!

Wrapping up, this trip was lots of fun packed into a quick 3-day weekend. If you’re ever heading to Charleston, South Carolina, I highly recommend doing any of the Historic Tours or exhibits. Have fun and look for my words again soon!

Cheers!

-Soleil

The Spongebob Quote Goes “My Leg!”

My leg, it hurts. Ow, ow, ow. I’ve been groaning about my leg for about ten minutes now. I feel like the fish on Spongebob, who, no matter what happens but in every catastrophe on the show, cries:

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Like a fool who doesn’t like to to take medication, I didn’t fill my pain medication. I only filled the inflammation medicine. So, I’m resorting to icing. While this is a temporary relief, it is better than nothing.

In other news, I’m watching “Maleficent” with my parents (it’s not like I can go out anywhere). I did give it a rather strict review in a previous post once and that wasn’t even my full review of it. Anyway, watching it a second time, it does have its charm and graces, good animation and fair cast, but I’m still not a fan of how they humanized Maleficent.

In other, other news, I’m looking for a Critique Partner (aka CP) for my book I’ve been writing. I posted a classified ad on another wordpress blog, so let’s see what comes up. If any of you ahve suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them. I’ll keep writing after the movie.

Look for my words again soon.

-Soleil

Movie Review: Belle (2014)

I figured I should post a review, since I haven’t done that in a while, I don’t think. (Ahem, Disclaimer: Spoilers Ahead!) Anyway…, yesterday I watched the movie “Belle”:

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Because I’m a Disney dunderhead, I thought this was supposed to be a sort of retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. I was wrong. I don’t know why they even titled it Belle, because, yes the title girl’s full name is Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay, but they call her Dido throughout the entire film. Were the makers of the movie worried that people would mispronounce the movie title if they had called it “Dido”? I don’t know. I just think they could have picked a better title. Seriously, the title “Belle” is really confusing. At least, I think so.

Regardless, I found the film captivating. It covered issues that were present at the time, such as slavery of blacks in Britain, the difficulties of Dido growing up as a mulato English heiress (due to her white father, a Royal Navy officer, leaving her his pension after his death), and the struggles of aristocracy for a black woman in English society.

For example, Dido was seen as enough of an equal to dine with her white family in private (she lives with her great-uncle (the Lord Chief Justice and the 1st Earl of Mansfield, William Murray and aunt Elizabeth, and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth (Bet) Murray. (Quick backstory as to how Dido came to live with them: Dido’s father had to go off on a naval excursion to the Indies and left her in the care of his uncle and aunt. Bet is the daughter of William and Elizabeth’s nephew, who later in life becomes the 2nd Earl of Mansfield (although that is not covered in the movie) and sent to live with her uncle and aunt. She is already living there with them when Dido is brought in.)), however, when there are guests attending meals at the house, she must eat separately from her family, but could not dine with the servants, due to social protocol, so says her uncle. There is a quote in the movie where Dido asks (more or less like so): “How can I be ranked low enough that I cannot eat meals with my family and our guests, but ranked too high to dine with the servants?”.

Anyway, it’s a great period-piece in my opinion and you should watch it. If anything at all but for to watch it as a purely historical standpoint. Also, need I mention that Tom Felton is in it? He plays James Ashford. That’s right, Draco Malfoy plays the son of an English Lord in this movie:

largeAnd, for any “Doctor Who” fans out there, Penelope Wilton plays Lady Mary Murray, the spinster sister of William Murray, I believe:

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Well, there you have it. My review is that you should watch this movie. It’s fantastic, dramatic, lovely, and all-around interesting. Watch it!

Look for my words again soon!

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