A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6 by Lemony Snicket

I’ve been caught in between A Series of Unfortunate Events and Gilmore Girls, I know. Here we are with Books 4 to 6 done in the Lemony Snicket series. I’m going to take a little break from Lemony Snicket as the point of this was to catch up with where the series ended and I’ll have something special very soon for it. As for this one, we’re doing a short review of each book in this collection, just like the last post on books 1-3 (review here)

Without further ado, let’s check out these three books!

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6
by: Lemony Snicket

a series of unfortunate events collection

Summary of collection at Goodreads

Book 4: The Miserable Mill

After the unfortunate events in the The Wide Window, the children are sent to be under the care of the owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Their new guardian, only referred to as Sir, sends them off to work, much against the will of his business partner who doesn’t really have much say, Charles. In Lucky Smells, Klaus is the most affected when his glasses are broken and sent to the optometrist, Dr. Orwell and comes back in a trance, only broken spontaneously. It doesn’t take them long to realize that he was hypnotized, while Violet and Sunny find a way to resolve this and happen to encounter Count Olaf in yet another disguise.

The Miserable Mill is one that took me a little longer to get invested in. It starts off with suspense as we watch the children get sent to work, even Sunny who can put use to her sharp teeth, of course. A little stretch of the imagination is how this series is intended. Skipping over that detail, we learn a little about hypnosis. Count Olaf’s disguise is ridiculous as he turns himself into a secretary. As always, the children attempt to save the day. Maybe a few limbs short and not a whole lot of innocent lives were taken in this one, which is a change of pace. There are whimsical characters here and the plot is rather intricate, somehow it lacks a certain pace to it. However, it still works well enough.

Book 5: The Austere Academy

After Sir takes them out of his care, the Baudelaire Orphans are sent off to boarding school, Prufrock Prep, run by a bad violin performing obsessed Vice Principal Nero. Before they even meet the useless VP Nero, they encounter the school bully, Carmelita Spats who calls them “Cakesniffers” (whatever that means). Prufrock Prep is a boarding school and they are discarded in the orphan house, run down and infested with dripping fungus and crawling crabs. The classes they are put in are with two teachers: one who loves to share her stories and one that loves to measure everything. Sunny doesn’t get to be in a class but rather sent to be an administrative assistant who has to make her own staples and staple paperwork all day. What helps is that they meet the Quagmire triplets who are only two right now and also had their family perish in a fire who help them invent and investigate.

Surprisingly, The Austere Academy is a pretty fun read. It is probably the one with a huge stretch of imagination but its also these very smart Baudelaire orphans are making use of Count Olaf’s stupidity and personality and hiding their suspicions until they feel like its the right moment. On top of that, now we also have the Quagmire triplets, Isadora and Duncan. Count Olaf’s disguise is a good one. The adults are still quite colorful with their various obsessions. There are some clever bits here and having some other characters similar to the Baudelaire orphans to team up with them is a welcome change.

Book 6: The Ersatz Elevator

After Count Olaf’s plans are foiled and he kidnaps the two Quagmire triplets, The Baudelaire orphans are sent out to Esme and Jerome Squalor at 667 Dark Avenue, a big condo complex. Esme is the 6th biggest financial advisor (or something around there) and they are actually back to only a few blocks away from their Baudelaire mansion that was burnt down. The Squalors live in a world that is obsessed with “ins” and “outs” from pinstripe suits to ocean decorations and especially the stopped use of the elevator. Everything falls into place as Count Olaf appears in another disguise with a big plan. The orphans need to figure out what is up with Count Olaf while also figuring out the mystery letters that the Quagmires told them before they were taken away and also, where are they if Count Olaf is scheming again.

Perhaps I’m a fan of far-fetched imaginative pieces, The Ersatz Elevator really kicks it up a little, putting all three children to use their abilities and finding a courage in them that we’ve seen but never to this extent. Its a little unbelievable story but full of incredibly fun characters and has lots of twists and surprises. Its suspense and a page turner. We’re pretty much halfway through the series at this point and a great time to kick up the fact that the orphans are in fact growing up and facing their new miserable reality with as much courage and intelligence as possible.

Overall…

This collection steps up the game a little. The Baudelaire orphans are getting smarter. Sunny is starting to say words that make sense although her teeth are still a thing of splendor in terms of what she can achieve. The stories are full of creativity and the scenarios they are thrown into while far-fetched are imaginative. It continues on with clever uses of words and throws us tons of vocabulary and description. I think the thing to remember here is that these books are meant for children and while we may what is going to happen and we can sit here thinking when they’ll be smarter the next time and that nothing really makes sense especially with the stupid adults, especially Mr. Poe, they are colorful in their own way and adds to the story itself, helping the children shine a little brighter.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 1-3 by Lemony Snicket

With the recent release of Netflix Originals series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, I couldn’t help but feel really behind in not catching up with the books. In an effort to get the source material read before watching the series, here we go! I ended up getting the three book collection because it was a better deal. Plus, the first season of the TV show covers the first four books in the series.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 1-3
by: Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection

Book 1: The Bad Beginning

The start of anything can be tough but what always made this series fun is its dark tone and constant reminder that nothing happy is coming out of this story of the Baudelaire orphans. The introduction of all our key characters are all in this first book. We have the Baudelaire orphans: Violet, Klaus and Sunny who are although young, actually quite talented. Our villain Count Olaf gets his entrance as their first guardian and the always coughing but rather useless Mr. Poe who is responsible for the orphans well-being. And of course, our author Lemony Snicket may be the fun parts with his pocket full definitions and comparisons to better understand the vocabulary here. Absolutely a clever way to introduce children to new words and how to use them along with a group of whimsical characters. This theme carries forward to the future books in the series as well.

The Bad Beginning itself is a fun and dark read. While it hangs on the point of the Baudelaire orphans misadventures after the death of their parents and the horrible Count Olaf after their immense fortune, it is quite the imaginative ride and a very dynamic read between both the recount of the story to the characters they’ve created. In many ways, Violet, Klaus and Sunny truly develop in the characters of them being incredibly smart kids even if they are still learning and doesn’t quite know everything but are quite the problem solver. As they work out their escape from the evil cluthes of Count Olaf, we grow to love each of these characters a little more.

Book 2: The Reptile Room

The second book, The Reptile Room, picks up after the first one as the orphans are sent off after Count Olaf’s plans are overturned. With him still on the loose, they head down Lousy Lane to Dr. Montgomery Montgomery’s care, a world renowned herpetologist. Mazes and reptiles and deadly snakes are lurk in this book. The Baudelaire orphans, despite all the bad, start to enjoy their stay with Uncle Monty as he lets them dive deep to build on their fortes. The Reptile Room is a fun one as well. The best parts usually go to the slightly eccentric characters that the books have created as the orphans’ guardians. However, the process of Count Olaf is also incredibly well thought out.

Book 3: The Wide Window

 No one quite beats Aunt Josephine as a little irrational and slightly nuts so far in the series. The Wide Window’s next stop is at Lake Lachrymose where the orphans stay with a very scared Aunt Josephine. In all her feat, she actually is a pretty colorful and entertaining character to read, especially with the Lake Lachrymose and the decoding. There’s quite a bit of mystery in this book and quite a bit of adventure and invention.

Overall, its hard to talk about these books. Each of these books are made up of thirteen chapters with a good pacing and some really fun characters. Count Olaf is a fairly sinister if not a little odd villain who is a master of disguise at least he is to everyone else but the orphans who usually sees through him right away. The narration is probably the best part of the novel. On top of that, the stories itself carry a great tone and dives in many educational things for the younger audience in a fun way like grammar (particularly in Aunt Josephine’s story), a lot of vocabulary and even anagrams (particularly  notice them for Count Olaf related characters either for his mischievous followers). The first three books are incredibly enjoyable. In fact, I pretty much read through them quickly. Although most of it was covered in the movie adaptation, it was nice to see the contrast of the two.

Have you read A Series of Unfortunate Events?

Disney: Fantasia (1940)

Next up in the Disney project is Fantasia! I don’t watch Fantasia a lot but there is no doubt that being immersed in the classical music world since I was a little girl taking piano lessons and whatnot, there is a lot of nice memories of the music used here. Fantasia is known for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  I mean, I even have Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey in my Disney plush collection. Its definitely a musical journey.  Its one that focuses on interpreting music rather than in any dialogue because other than the narrator in between, there isn’t any talking going on.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia

Director: Norman Ferguson, James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield

Cast: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, Walt Disney (voice of Mickey Mouse)

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.-IMDB

How do we talk about a collection of animated interpretations? Its tough.  I can tell you which are my favorites or I can run through all the short features. I can even talk about the musical pieces they chose here and the stories they told. So many different approaches and yet, I’m going to do this in a even more simple way: a list from my favorite to least favorite.

Fantasia is a collection of 8 pieces.  It has an intermission in the middle and comes back with a little segment with a little guest called “soundtrack” that pretty much shows a sound wave interpreting the different instruments in the orchestra.  Its a fun and playful little part that is a great addition before jumping back into the main thing, especially with a little jam among the members of the orchestra with a fun little tune.
Before I continue my rambling, here is the list:

  1. Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky
  2. Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven
  3. Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli
  4. Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack
  5. Toccata and Fugue in d minor by Bach
  6. Night on Bald Mountain & Ave Maria by Mussorgsky and Schubert, respectively
  7. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas
  8. Rite of Spring by Stravinsky

Fantasia

My favorite Fantasia segment without a doubt is the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky with the fairies and the flowers and the mushrooms.  Its amazing and beautiful to watch.  The music is cheery and moody and so beautifully crafted.  Its one of my favorite pieces and every Christmas I try my hand at improving Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy just a little bit more and on the years, I watch Fantasia, there isn’t one time I don’t pull out my Nutcracker Suite piano pieces and give it another go.

However, a rather close second that always makes me gush and fall in love a little is the wonderful Pastoral Symphony with the colorful pegasus and their cupids, centaurs and then what I assume is the Greek Gods playing with lightning while everyone on land has to avoid it.  Its a ton of fun to watch and a rather adventurous and cute one at the same time.

Fantasia

Those two are the front runners of the collection here.

After this, it starts to be a little harder to differentiate.  Talking about a good time, packing in a little bounce to our step while we watch is Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack (which I talked about earlier) and Dance of the Hours, which is literally a dance with different animals and shades to signify the change in the day.  The piece is fantastic.  It also has some iconic scenes from Fantasia that many know about. Toccata and Fugue falls into this category as well being the one that incorporates the orchestra fading into the natural environment using weather as a main theme.

Talking iconic scenes, its hard to put Sorcerer’s Apprentice so low in the list but its one that is fun to watch but also has  lost its magic a little. While Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria is a great combination to wrap up the show.  Its not my favorite but that is only because the contrast sometimes makes me fall a little tired.  Ave Maria always has that power to make me get a little hypnotized in its hymn.

Fantasia

And there was no doubt that Rite of Passage, being a little closer to the middle of the pack always knocks me out with boredom and frightens me awake with the aggressive music.  However, we can’t fault it completely because Stravinsky’s piece does carry that feeling.  It has dinosaurs and the heart of the story is in the right place.  Its the music and the pacing that makes it hard to watch.  I usually pause it after Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Rite of Spring to make sure I have some energy to carry on the second half.

With that said, Fantasia is a beautiful addition but one that I usually take in doses.  A collection of stories means you can do that and take a breather between the pieces before moving onto the next to fully appreciate it.  It has a balanced spectrum of a range of emotions it tries to portray while telling its stories and interpreting these Classical pieces.

Have you seen Fantasia? Which is your favorite segment?

Cover Reveal: Nightlight Tales by Anthony Renfro

Its been a few months but we’re back for another Cover Reveal! Anthony’s next book is a collection of short stories.

If you are new to him or to here, Anthony Renfro is another fellow blogger here who had a few novels published independently and has also published his short stories.  He is the blogmaster over at Books, Movies, Poetry.  Head on over and visit his site and check out his lovely haikus on all sorts of topics including movies.

Without further ado, I present to you:

 

Nightlight Tales

Synopsis

13 tales of terror.
13 tales that will have you reaching for the nightlight before you go to bed tonight.

Links

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015D715VW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015D715VW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B015D715VW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B015D715VW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Nightlight-Tales-Collection-Horror-Stories/dp/1517355818/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Excerpt from Need to Feed:

The house appeared to be silent, but he thought he heard something, something low and almost inaudible coming from one of the bedrooms.

It was a sucking sound, like something feasting.

He made his way towards that sound, boots clicking on the uneven hard wood floor, spurs jingling, hoping he wasn’t right, but pretty sure he was.

He stopped at the door that led into the Master Bedroom, and listened again. Sure enough, the sound he was hearing was coming from this room. He held the holy water vial up, and popped the lid off with his thumb. He aimed his gun forward, and slipped into the room.

The first person he saw was Bob, lying on his back on the floor, and on top of him was a Vampire, fangs sunk into the man’s neck, sucking him dry. The Vampire was so engrossed in his feast that he didn’t hear the sheriff move in behind him.

While this Vampire fed on Bob, the sheriff looked across the room, and sure enough Linda was lying on her back with another Vampire on top of her, fangs sunk into her neck.

The sheriff was surprised to see these two out so late, because night weakened them considerably; it didn’t hurt them or stop them, but it was sunlight that truly gave them strength.