The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter—Secret Societies, Murder, and Tea

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss book cover
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss, follows the meeting and adventures of the daughters and ’daughters’ of mad scientists in 1890s London. Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, along with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, investigate the murders of young women in White Chapel and their connection to the sinister Societe des Alchimistes.

1—Notes and Interruptions

The book is in epistolary format, ‘written’ by Catherine Moreau with commentary by the other girls. There’s an ‘Author’s Note’ at the end of chapter one, where Catherine explains the notes and why she’s kept them in the book—partly to help illustrate the characters of the various young women about whom she is writing and partly so you can see what she’s had to put up with while writing it. It’s very meta, but very entertaining. Continue reading “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter—Secret Societies, Murder, and Tea”

Van Helsing—Monster Mash-Up

Van Helsing movie poster
Van Helsing

Van Helsing, directed by Stephen Sommers, follows the titular character as he fights Dracula, the Wolf-Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster. The horror movie is both tribute and homage to the classic Universal Horror movies, as well as the original books.

1—Born Dead

The plot is as follows—Dracula—played by Richard Roxburgh—commissioned Dr. Frankenstein to create a creature to power a machine that would bring to life the children of Dracula and his brides. They’re nasty little monsters birthed by the hundreds and would destroy all human life. Enter Van Helsing—played by Hugh Jackman—sent by the Vatican to save the souls of the Valerious family. Their ancestor swore they’d not enter heaven until Dracula was killed, and there are only two members of the family left. There’s also a mysterious link between the amnesiac Van Helsing and Dracula. And oh yes, they have to figure out how to finally kill Dracula. Continue reading “Van Helsing—Monster Mash-Up”

Kill the Farm Boy—Not Your Average Epic Fantasy

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne book cover
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Kill the Farm Boy, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the tale of a Chosen One who runs away from home and promptly gets crushed to death by Fia, a seven foot vegetarian warrior who feels really sorry about it. This accidental death kicks off a quest by Fia and a ragtag crew of others for, well they don’t really agree on what they want. But they all want something and the best way to get it is to cross the lands of Pell in an epic-ish journey.

1—Meet the Adventurers

There’s Fia, of course, who just wants to settle down and grow a rose garden. There’s also Gustave the enchanted talking goat who ran away with said Chosen One farm boy to avoid being made into curry and now hangs out with Fia hoping to maintain same. And Agrabella, the only Wakeful person in a castle cursed to sleep, a bard who decides it’s time to leave said castle and follow Fia to find out what the heck happened. There’s the Crepuscular Lord Toby, who really wants some artisanal crackers and cheese, and to become a full blown Dark Lord. And lastly, there’s Lord Toby’s huntswoman Poltro, who got dropped on her head once too many times as a child but does her best as a rogue despite a crippling fear of chickens. Together they all venture forth to visit Grinda the Sand Witch. Continue reading “Kill the Farm Boy—Not Your Average Epic Fantasy”

Competence—Prim and Percy Come Into Their Own

Competence by Gail Carriger book cover
Competence by Gail Carriger

Competence, by Gail Carriger, is the third in The Custard Protocol series. This time out, we follow Primrose and her brother Percival, rather than Prudence, as the main characters. We start out with Prim being inadvertently abandoned in Singapore when the Spotted Custard, her airship, springs a helium leak.

1—Prim’s and Percy’s Adventures

After being separated from the Spotted Custard, Prim—along with Tasherit, a were-lioness—Prim must secure helium for her ship by stealing a mushroom. Then, after Prim and Rue receive a coded missive from Rue’s mother, Percy must plot a dangerous and little-used course to South America to rescue an endangered species of vampire, the pishtacos. After Rue’s first attempt to meet with said pishtacos goes awry, it’s up to Prim and Percy, using nothing but good manners and logic, to convince the vampires of their good intentions. And none of that even takes into account Percy’s attempt to use a book club to save a soulless man. Continue reading “Competence—Prim and Percy Come Into Their Own”

Overly Sarcastic Productions—History, Myths, and All Kinds of Good Stuff

Overly Sarcastic Productions
Overly Sarcastic Productions

Overly Sarcastic Productions is a simply animated Youtube channel hosted by Red and Blue, who recap classic literature—like the Iliad and Beowulf and Paradise Lost—Shakespeare, legends and myths, and history in an informative and amusing way.

1—Trope Talks!

The first playlist I went through is Red’s Trope Talks! These are videos where Red talks tropes. Though she references Tvtropes.org on occasion, I don’t believe she’s affiliated with them. One of my favorite of these videos is Red’s take on Romantic Subplots—I totally agree with all her points. She also talks beginnings, Evil Empires, Paragons, the Five Man Band, and the Power of Friendship, to name a few. As of this writing, there are twenty-two videos in the Trope Talks! playlist. I plan to watch them all again when I get through the rest of Red and Blue’s videos, which currently number about two hundred. Continue reading “Overly Sarcastic Productions—History, Myths, and All Kinds of Good Stuff”

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)—Spectacular

The Phantom of the Opera 2004 movie poster
The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera is about just what the title says it is, the man haunting the Opera Populaire  in Paris, in 1870. Erik, the titular Phantom, lives beneath the Opera House and grooms the young Christine Daae to be a diva soprano—and does a few acts of sabotage to further her career. Enter Christine’s childhood friend, Raoul, the Viscount de Chagny, and you’ve also got a love triangle. But really, it’s all about the music.

1—The Music of the Night

I adore the music of The Phantom of the Opera, and the actors and singers in the movie do the pieces justice. You really must hear the music to get a proper scope of it. It’s all emotion, from quiet moments to ebulliently large. I like that kind of over the top drama in my music. Continue reading “The Phantom of the Opera (2004)—Spectacular”

The Lost Boys—My Favorite Vampire Movie

The Lost Boys movie poster
The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys is about Michael, Sam, and their mother Lucy as they move in with their grandfather in Santa Carla, the “murder capital of world” as is says in spray paint on the back of the town’s entry billboard, and finds themselves the target of a nest of vampires.

1—Horror and Humor

The Lost Boys has the perfect balance of horror and humor so that neither overwhelms the other. The pacing is good, a slow build interspersed with people being pulled up screaming into the night sky. The showdown between the pairs of brothers (Sam and Michael joined by the vampire hunting Frog brothers) and the vampires is satisfying, while the very end of the movie is both unexpected and and the perfect ending note. Continue reading “The Lost Boys—My Favorite Vampire Movie”

Coraline (the movie)—Spellbinding

Coraline movie poster

Coraline (yes, that’s spelled correctly) is the stop motion animated tale of a young girl who moves into the Pink Palace Apartments and finds a door to a magical world that’s more sinister than it first appears. Based on a book of the same name, by Neil Gaiman, it is one seriously creepy movie.

1—Wondrous

The “wonders” the Other Mother creates for Coraline are suitably spectacular, seeing as in-story there were created to be spectacles. Spink and Forcible’s musical and high-diving act with its scottie dog audience; Mr. Bobinsky’s Jumping Mouse Circus in the attic; and of course, the garden. Oh my, the garden. And of course all these wonders turn to horror in their time. Continue reading “Coraline (the movie)—Spellbinding”

Over the Garden Wall—Fun Fairytale About the Brink of Death

Over the Garden Wall poster
Over the Garden Wall

Over the Garden Wall is an animated short series (just ten episodes) following Wirt and his little brother Greg as the traverse the forest of the Unknown and try to avoid becoming prey to the Beast.

1—Liminal Places

Liminal places are places that are between—between life and death, between human and animal, between madness and sanity, between dreams and reality, even between roles in life. Over the Garden Wall is made of such liminal places. Continue reading “Over the Garden Wall—Fun Fairytale About the Brink of Death”

The Shape of Water—A Cold War Era Fairytale

The Shape of Water movie poster

The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa, a mute woman who works as a cleaning woman in a top secret facility. One day they bring a fish monster into the lab, and Elisa falls in love. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.

Warning: full frontal nudity, female.

1—Once Upon A Time

Where to start talking about The Shape of Water? It’s a slow simmer, rather than an action-packed romp, but the pacing is just perfect for what it is. I was never bored. The imagery is beautiful, starting with an underwater apartment scene. We meet Elisa and get to know her routine—wake up, masturbate, cook eggs, go to work. And then her routine is disrupted by a scream and a man coming out of a room bleeding from the stumps of his fingers. Continue reading “The Shape of Water—A Cold War Era Fairytale”