Friday, 30 June 2017

Anastasia Broadway Musical Review

I recently mentioned that I saw Anastasia, the Broadway musical in New York City. I really enjoyed this musical and I am going to attempt to give you a somewhat spoiler free review of the beautiful musical, though there will be some spoilers since I am comparing it with the 1997 animated film which is also called Anastasia.  I hope you enjoy and consider going to see Anastasia on Broadway.




Title: Anastasia
Location: Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Book: Terrence McNally
Music: Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens
Choreography: Peggy Hickey
Main Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klena, John Bolton, Mary Beth Peil, Ramin Karimloo, Caroline O'Connor
Runtime: 2 hrs & 30 min.
My Rating: 5/5 Crowns
Opened: April 24, 2017
I Saw It: June 23, 2017


PLOT

Anastasia is based on the 1997 animation done by Fox about the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar. In the animated movie, the youngest daughter survives the Bolshevik Revolution and escapes the palace with her grandmama [with the help of a serving boy named Dimitri] but they are unfortunately separated and Anastasia ends up in an orphanage where she remembers nothing from her past.  Then ten years later, this same serving boy is now a professional con man who works with a man named Vlad and they are trying to find the lost princess because her grandmama has offered to pay a lot of money to see her granddaughter return. They meet Anastasia [now known as Anya] who shares a resemblance with the lost princess and they embark on a journey to Paris where Anya is trained to pretend to be the princess. All the while, the villain who started the Bolshevik Revolution [Rasputin] is trying to remove Anastasia once and for all.

I love the 1997 animation because it is so much fun. There is a strong female lead, fun banter and the best songs. I was so excited when I heard that they had adapted this movie into a Broadway musical and I begged for my parents to buy tickets so I could go see it, which they did. :)

The musical is just as fun, if not more so because it is live and right in front of you, as the animated film. The plot is similar, with Anya having amnesia after the Bolshevik Revolution and running into Dmitry [different spelling] and his partner Vlad who are trying to find someone to play the princess Anastasia. In the musical, however, the plot is more realistic. What I mean by that, is that the villain is no longer ghostly Rasputin and his evil spirits. Instead, the villain is an actual leader in Leningrad [St. Petersburg], named Gleb who has orders to crush any rumors of the lost Princess Anastasia. I liked the realistic approach to Anastasia a lot as it appealed to older audiences more than the animation does.  The plot still followed Anya, Vlad and Dmitry who were trying to make it to paris in order to pass off Anya as the princess.



ACTORS/CHARACTERS

I enjoyed all the characters and the way they were portrayed.

Anya is the lead character in the musical. She is a young woman who remembers nothing from her past and works as a street sweeper in Leningrad. In a world where no one has a voice, she goes about her days with her head down and trying to appear invisible. After she meets Dmitry and Vlad and teams up with them, her strength and independence begin to surface. Christy Altomare does a fantastic job portraying the lost Russian princess. Between her looks and her voice, Christy is a perfect Anya. Christy Altomare has a beautiful and strong singing voice and it just blew me away that such a small woman could produce such a beautiful voice.  I loved Anya and Christy's depiction of Anya.

Dmitry is one of the con-men and he and Anya butt heads almost immediately after meeting. Dmitry is as three-dimensional as the other characters. He comes off as cocky at the beginning but his character develops throughout the two acts.  Derek Klena who portrays the handsome con-men does a great job. His singing voice is fantastic and I was really happy to find out that he had more songs to sing as Dmitry is my favorite character in both the animation and the musical.

Vlad is as funny as he is in the animation. Vlad is Dmitry's partner-in-crime and is very amusing. The portrayal of Vlad is done by John Bolton. John Bolton is energetic and amusing and I loved how he portrayed Vlad. Vlad is more entertaining than he is in the animation because he is given more development and stage-time.

Gleb [Ramin Karimloo] is our new villain. If you didn't know, the musical doesn't explore Rasputin and instead takes a more realistic approach. Gleb is a Soviet officer who is working in Leningrad and has to shut down rumors about the princess Anastasia still being alive. Throughout the musical, he is struggling with the thought of getting rid of Anastasia for good. He is another complex character who seems to almost be in love with Anya which is why he can't carry out his orders.

The two other main characters are the Dowager Empress [Mary Beth Peil] and Lily, who is the Empress' lady in waiting.



STAGING

Even though the staging wasn't as complicated as other Broadway musicals such as Wicked, it was still pretty complex.  On either side of the stage they had kind of large turntables that they spun around with different sets.  The background of the stage was also used for projections. 





SOUNDTRACK 

The soundtrack is very similar to the animation's soundtrack. Most of the songs that were in the animation are in the musical, though not all of them. 

There are also many added songs such as Land of Yesterday sung by Lily and the ensemble, and In a Crowd of Thousands sung by Christy Altomare and Derek Klena. The new songs really add a lot to the musical and I like how the characters who didn't get to sing as much in the movie, now have their time to shine. 




Thank you for reading and I'll see you next time. 







Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Joyride by Anna Banks - Audiobook Review

This is my first ever audiobook review. This is also a spoiler free review.




Joyride
Written by Anna Banks
Audiobook Read by: Kyla Garcia and Andrew Eiden
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Pages: 276
Length: 8 hours and 41 minutes
Source: Audiobook from overdrive from my public library
Places to Get this Book: Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository


Recommended Age: 13 and up!


Summary [from Goodreads]:

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.


Review:


I have just started getting into listening to audiobooks which is crazy because I never liked them before. In fact, I pretty much used to hate them because they were long and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything while I listened which is totally not true. If you are new to audiobooks like me, then I recommend doing things like blogging, drawing, cooking and cleaning. This book and audiobook have become a new favorite of mine and I am for sure going to purchase this soon to put on my shelf because I loved it.  Yes, I used to claim not to like contemporaries but honestly I am starting to love them and this one really shows that.


COVER


The cover is cute as most covers for contemporaries tend to be. Since Arden's truck plays an important role in the book, it is fitting for it to be on the cover. However, I don't think the cover completely fits the book but that is a small detail that I have decided to overlook.


WORLD-BUILDING

The setting is modern day Florida which is fitting for a book that tackles many issues such as deportation, immigration laws and racism. The town is a small one and small bits of information are consistently being given about it throughout the book.

Then there are the characters.

CARLY VEGA

Carly was the perfect protagonist. She is a Hispanic girl living in the United States with her older brother. Their parents were deported years ago and now her she and her brother are forced to scrape together enough money for the necessities as well as smuggle their parents back across the Mexico/United States border. She works at a small convenience store on the night shifts in order to help her brother who works at a construction company and is determined to also keep up her grades enough to get a scholarship so she can go to college. She is a very determined character who I loved a lot. She's a hard-worker and knows exactly what she wants and really wants nothing to get in the way of her goal.

However, one night, an incident at the convenience store where she works, causes her life to change in an unwanted direction. She meets Arden Moss, the school popular boy, who is determined to befriend her and against all her willpower, they form an unlikely friendship. She is scared that her brother might find out, however, so she tries to keep it on the down low.

I loved living Carly's life through this book even though it was very hard. It reminded me of how other people have harder struggles than I do and how she persevered through it. She is a fearless, determined character who has to deal with the racism of the county sheriff, the demands and pressure from her parents and her older brother and the endless amount of schoolwork. I adored Carly and she is definitely a new favorite character for me.

ARDEN MOSS

This book is told in two perspectives. Arden's is in third person and Carly's is in first person.

At first, I was not a fan of Arden. He seemed like the typical popular kid who was self-absorbed and didn't care about what others thought which meant he thought he could do whatever he wanted to. Then he started to grow on me because his character, like many characters, had layers and underneath several of those layers was just a broken, sweet boy who I adored. He looked out for Carly even when he didn't know the whole truth about her life. And omg, I can't believe he had to grow up with his father who was honestly a racist dirtbag. I hated him and I don't know who wouldn't hate him.

Arden Moss had his own problems to deal with and yet he managed to take on Carly's problems later on in the novel which I thought was perfect and sweet. I really enjoyed Arden's humor and perspective and he has also become a favorite character of mine.


FRIENDSHIP/FAMILY

Family is everything to Carly and her brother. In fact, the main point of this novel is getting Carly's family back from Mexico. Family is their whole life so it's safe to say that family plays a significant role in this novel. Carly learns that even though family is very important, your family shouldn't control you and you should do your own thing.

Friendship is also very important in this novel. Carly learns that she can have friends and she can form attachments with other people without it ruining her life which she thought beforehand. She tried not to form attachments with anyone because she didn't want to explain her life to anyone or have them just be friends with her because they pitied her. I really enjoyed Carly's friendships with others.
PLOT

I won't say too much because of spoilers but the plot was not your typical contemporary plot. That is what makes it so interesting and unique. Carly wants to be left alone, do her job at the store and earn money from her family. However, one night when one of her regulars leaves the store, she hears commotion outside and discovers a kid is holding her customer at gunpoint. She surveys the situation and then grabs the store gun in order to try and scare the guy away. It turns out that the robber is none other than Arden Moss who is the popular guy at her school who was trying to scare off his uncle from driving drunk, with an unloaded gun. There are more twists and turns that are amazing and unexpected.

ROMANCE

Arden and Carly start off as strangers but they are thrown together when she tries to help Arden's uncle. Soon they start an adorable friendship and the more time they spend together, the stronger their attraction grows. However, their love story isn't simple. Arden isn't known to have long relationships and Carly doesn't want to become close to anyone due to her situation with her family. Arden also has a racist father and Carly keeps secrets from Arden so their relationship isn't the smoothest. But their relationship is still amazing and I adored it.

AUDIOBOOK THOUGHTS

The audiobook is read by two different people. One person reads Carly's parts and one person reads Arden's. Kyla Garcia does an amazing job with the voice of Carly Vega. I was surprised that she even successfully pronounced the Spanish words. I could really imagine her as Carly because of the depth she brought to the character. Andrew Eiden does a wonderful job reading Arden's voice and made the audiobook seem a lot more realistic. He got the cocky attitude down and sounded age appropriate. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook and I look forward to seeing what else these readers narrate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook if you are unsure whether or not to pick this one up. The audiobook completely transfixed me and it fully immerses you into the story. I have found that fast-paced contemporaries are better to listen to then to read because you get the full story better. I loved the narration and the way the author tackled difficult ideas in a fun YA Contemporary. This is a must read for every Contemporary and diverse fan.

Quotes from the Book:

“But are there really good people? Good people, through and through? Or are we all just varying versions of bad people, some trying harder to be good?” 





My Rating: 5 out of 5 Crowns

Summer Book Bingo '17



Hello everyone! It is time for another Book Bingo. 

Anyways. 

This seasonly challenge is hosted by Bekka from Pretty Deadly Reviews. You can find the original post and the rules here The reading categories give us plenty of wiggle-room though I may change a couple categories to suit me better. I will mention the categories that I edit, later on with my TBR. This runs from June '17 - August '17.

http://www.prettydeadlyblog.com/summer-2017-bookish-bingo/ 

Here is the card and my TBR: 








B




ACE REP:  TBD

A BOOK ABOUT FANDOM: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

FAMILY DRAMA: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

A SEQUEL: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

FLOWERS ON THE COVER: TBD


I





OVER 5 YEARS OLD: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

SCI FI: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller

BLUE COVER: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

NAME IN TITLE: Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett

TRAVEL: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson


N




THRILLER: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

LGBT+: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

FREE

ROYALTY:  The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE: TBD


G





RED COVER: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh

SUMMER RELEASE: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

ON YOUR TBR FOREVER: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

A BOOK WITH A MAP: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

ROMANCE: Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett


O

 




LATINEX MC: Labrynth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

WHITE COVER: TBD

REVOLUTION AND REBELLION: TBD

AUTHOR FROM ANOTHER CONTINENT: TBD

AWARD WINNER: TBD


Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekly Recap 6/19 - 6/25


I have decided to start doing a weekly post called weekly recap where I update you on my life, reading and watching. Plus any posts I have done or will do.

This is a really long recap since I haven't done one of these in months. I am trying to showcase a ton from the past months. The new books section are all the books I've gotten since I have last recapped. The "this week I read" section is all the books I've read since I did a reading recap. Everything else is just from this past week.

I am now on Summer break [finally]. This past weekend, I went to NYC with my family and I got to see Anastasia, the new Broadway musical. If you have the time, the money and the ability to get there, you should go see a Broadway show. They are so well done and amazing. I wanted to go see Anastasia because I love the 1997 Animated movie and my parents agreed to buy tickets for this musical. It was different from the Animated movie but it was just as good and I really enjoyed it. I also got to go to the Bronx Zoo which is ginormous and there are so many animals and it was a lot of fun.  And yes, it was very hot this past weekend but manageable.

I didn't get to read or write too much but I am hoping to this coming week as I have a bunch of posts to write and some novels to plan.

Now, let's get into recapping.


New Books

Purchased:









Library: 








Received for Review: 


 





In Case You Missed It


This Week I Read
  
  



This Week I Watched


 




Next Week I'm Reading







Upcoming Reviews







Upcoming Posts



Monday: Weekly Recap

Tuesday:  Summer Bookish Bingo TBR + Joyride by Anna Banks Review

Wednesday: Anastasia Broadway Musical Review 

Thursday: Wonder Woman Movie Review

Friday: Geekerella Book Review 

Saturday: TBD

Sunday: Weekly Recap






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