Month: March 2016

Animated vs Burton Alice in Wonderland

Since I shared with you guys my book review of Alice in Wonderland here are my thoughts on the Burton 2010 version and the Disney animated classic.

Rachel's Reviews

Many of you know I am doing a Disney Canon rewatch over on my youtube channel.  I’ve honestly been surprised how different my experience has been with several films- with my either looking more highly or slightly down on films from my 2014 watch.  I mean there are very few Disney films I don’t like on some level, so I suppose degrees of liking will vary depending on mood/situation.

Anyway, I am up to week 13 which means Alice in Wonderland.  I love Alice in Wonderland and it ended up at #11 in my original Disney Canon ranking.  This time it could end up even higher.  What struck me on this watch is how it is nonsense but nonsense with a purpose.  Alice says she thinks the world would be better if it was nonsense and all books had pictures, right was left, up was down etc.  So when she…

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Teaser Tuesday: Alice in Wonderland

This week’s Teaser Tuesdays is another classic I’m reading for the first time- Alice in Wonderland (actually 2 novels- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass).

I have been wanting to read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for some time but somehow never got around to it.  I wasn’t that into fantasy as a kid so didn’t really bond with the animated film or have a desire to read the book.  Now as an adult I love the animated film and am reviewing it on my youtube channel on Wednesday.  I am also reviewing the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland which I hate and everyone kept excusing it because ‘it’s more accurate to the book’.  I figured I better read it and decide for myself.

Well, I’m delighted to tell you aside from character similarities there is much more in common with the animated film than the Burton.  I found no chosen one, prophecy, battle or anything of the kind!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page (or I like to do the page I’m currently reading)
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

alice bookThis week my sentence is on page 29 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Chapter 4- Advice from a Caterpillar).

“Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

`What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!’

`I can’t explain MYSELF, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, `because I’m not myself, you see.’

`I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar.

`I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied very politely, `for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’

alice and caterpillarWhat I like about this scene is it pokes fun at the silliness of philosophy and people who think they are asking such deep and thoughtful questions when in reality it can be just as much nonsense as anything else.

I was really surprised how much I liked Alice and Wonderland.   For some reason I was expecting all the nonsense and whimsy to be a bit annoying in book form but I liked it.  It’s charming and Alice is an inquisitive, curious character to bring us into this world.
It’s really more a grouping of short stories more than a traditional narrative and I liked that approach. Through the Looking Glass has a little more structure with the chess pieces and the queens, but I liked meeting all the characters and hearing their stories. There’s a lot of humor in there and it’s just very enjoyable. I can see why it is a classic and a favorite of so many people.

I really liked the inventiveness of Wonderland and not knowing what kind of story was coming around the bend.  Was it going to be the Queen of Hearts playing croquet, a Dodo in a caucus race, or Humpty Dumpty having his great fall.  It all clipped along very well and was engaging and funny.  I think it holds up quite well.  Like I said, I liked it much more than I thought I would.

Would You Rather Reading Tag

Some of the books we've read over the years.

My friend Richard has an awesome blog with book, movie reviews and other posts.  He has been reviewing the Harry Potter books recently in a lot of detail so you will want to check that out.

Recently he posted a tag he found from a blogger named   Kristen P, I thought it looked like fun and I’d give it a go!

Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?

Definitely standalones.  There aren’t that many series that I love.  I find usually the quality goes down with each entry.

Would you rather only read male or female authors?

I’d like to meet the person that this matters for. I guess if I was forced to pick I would go with female because then I could read Elizabeth Gaskell, JK Rowling,  and Jane Austen.

Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

Amazon because I’m lazy and don’t want to leave my house.

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

As a movie fan I go with movies but there are some good miniseries from books like all the Austen series. Still, those feel like long movies rather than TV shows, so I’d still say movies.  It’s hard to think of good prime time shows that are based on books?

Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

5 pages a day I’m afraid although I would miss diving into a book and binging on it.  I just like savoring books rather than speeding my way through them.

Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?

Hmmm…this is a tough one.  I guess I go with reviewer because it would take what I already do but make it my profession.  That wouldn’t be half bad.  I have dabbled in writing with this blog and nanowrimo but am probably a better critic than author.

Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?

I think librarian because you’d get to help kids more, introducing them to great books.  But all the quiet, all the time would be a little annoying.

Would you rather read only your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?

My favorite genre but then again I’m not a huge genre purist.  I think many books fit multiple genres so I think I could sneak my way into other genres with that excuse.

Would you rather read your writing aloud to a roomful of loved ones or strangers?

It’s so weird but strangers.  You have to live with the your loved ones so if they didn’t like it that would be so awkward.

Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?
Definitely physical books as I do not have an ereader yet.  But I do listen to a lot of books so that might be my true pick.

So that is the tag.  If you’d like to do it please do!  It’s a lot of fun.

Friday 5: My 5 Favorite Male Singers

Hey guys!  I thought I would share with you guys my latest Friday 5 video . Friday 5 is a series where we are given a music-related topic and we are asked to pick 5 songs that fit said topic.

This week the topic is 5 Favorite Male Singers.  To make my decision easier I went with solo artists so that took out a John Fogerty, Brian Wilson, or Paul McCartney.  After that I had a fairly long list but I wanted to pick people I liked pretty much all of their songs and there had to be a good song I have not used in the Friday 5 yet (this week marks my 150th song recommendation for the Friday 5!).

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Fire and Rain- James Taylor.  I love Fire and Rain.  It sometimes makes me cry if I am feeling down.  But honestly I love all of James Taylor’s songs and would love to see him in concert someday.
  2. Raise Me Up- Josh Groban.  Everyone knows I am a Grobanite and I’ve been saving this song because it is perhaps the most expected of Josh Groban.  I love Josh Groban’s voice and have seen him 3 times in concert including the best concert experience of my life.
  3. Piano Man- Billy Joel. You could make an argument that Billy Joel is a stronger songwriter than singer but I still love his voice and his songs.  Kind of like Raise Me Up for Groban, it was time to do the expected pick for Billy Joel too.
  4. Try a Little Tenderness- Michael Buble.  This is my 8th Michael Buble pick.  I’ve also seen him 3 times in concert and I loved it every time.  I love his original stuff and his covers like this classic song.
  5. Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond.  This last slot I struggled putting a lot of different singers in there.  I don’t know if Neil Diamond is really my 5th favorite male singer but I do like him a lot and I hadn’t used this song so I figured why not

What do you think of my 5 songs and 5 artists?   What would you have picked?  You should join us for the Friday 5 if you have a blog or youtube channel.  It’s a ton of fun and next week’s topic is Five Songs About Fools so that should be tough!  If you do decide to play keep music clips under 25 seconds.  I haven’t been pinged once for copyright since I started that rule.

You can find out more at

Do you like these Friday 5 posts and hearing my taste on music?  I would love your feedback.  Thanks!

Batman (1966) vs Superman (1978)

Today is the day I get to see the new Batman vs Superman movie, and despite not being a hard-core fan I’m very excited.  My hope is the movie will focus on the heroes more than the typical Batman movie, which tend to be very villain-centric. Are you excited for the film?

I have been profiling Batman and Superman on my other content lately.  On my movie blog I reviewed:

All the Batman films

All the Superman films

I would love your thoughts on both of those posts.  Which Superman and Batman movie do you like the  most?

Over on my youtube channel as part of Family Movie Night series I took a look at the old Adam West Batman: The Movie from 1966.  It’s often looked at as ridiculous and stupid but I don’t think that is fair as it is supposed to be a comedy.  Adam West is very dapper and charming as Batman/Bruce Wayne.  The villains are a lot of fun and I love how everything is labeled.

batman 1966 labelsHere is my review:

And then for this week I took a look at Superman: The Movie (1978) and Superman 2 (1980).  I didn’t feel the 1978 film held up that well.  It takes so long to get everything going- an hour before we see Christopher Reeves, who is so great as Superman.  I loved him and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane.  I thought they had excellent chemistry.  This is why I liked Superman 2 much better because they get a lot more screen time.  Plus, I think Zod is much better villain than Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor.

Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve in Superman.

Here is my youtube review:

I would love to know your thoughts on these films and the franchises in general.  It’s been a lot of fun looking at all the different takes on such iconic and popular characters.  It’s kind of like Christmas Carol in a way.  The same basic story and framework can run the gambit of emotions and styles depending on who is doing the storytelling.

Keep an eye on the movie blog and channel for my review of Batman v Superman and here’s to ‘Truth, Justice, and the American Way!’

If you think my videos are any good give them a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Transformers: The Movie (1986) Review

Check out my Obscure Animation review of Transformers: The Movie over on my movie blog.

Rachel's Reviews

Hey guys!  I just wanted to quickly share with you my latest Obscure Animation review.  This is a monthly series I do over on my youtube channel profiling an animated film that is less well known and why you should see it.  This month’s pick, Transformers: The Movie, is loved by many but I still feel like it counts as it isn’t as well known as say a Disney or Pixar film.

People might be surprised to see me praise a Transformers movie as I am not a fan of any of the recent live action versions by schlockmeister Michael Bay.  It’s frustrating because this film is actually a good scifi movie with emotion and heart which none of the Bay films and I feel it is maligned by association when it shouldn’t be.

There are a lot of things Transformers: The Movie does right, which the live action films…

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Updates and Friday 5: Songs when I was a Teenager

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you have all had good weeks.  The last few months have flown by for me.  It’s been a bit dominated by headaches but a lot of fun experiences too.

Mainly I keep growing in my video creation skills.  It might not sound like much to be excited about but it really is thrilling to continue learning and growing.  Just today I figured out how to alter color in Adobe Premiere (a really tough software to use).  That was a huge breakthrough!

Anyway, it keeps me busy and motivated.  Next week we have Batman v Superman and I will be reviewing all the Superman and Batman movies on my blog.  I have watched all the Batman movies and in the weeds with the Superman movies right now.  This weekend is Superman 4, Superman Returns and Man of Steel…Yikes!

On Sunday I am doing a ranking video with my friends Abby and Jeremy where we are each giving our rankings for the Star Wars films.  It’s been tougher than I thought because I like most of them for different reasons.  Here’s the link if you are interested in watching.

This week for the Friday 5 the topic is Songs from When I Was a Teenager.  This one was actually kind of easy for me as they are still songs I love.

  1. Who Am I? From Les Miserables- I am running out of Les Miserables songs but I had to pick one for this category because Les Mis was the first music I really fell in love with and I still love it to this day
  2. Ease on Down the Road- Musical theater was pretty much the music that meant the most to me in high school.  In fact, theater was more important to me than film or books at that time.  The Wiz was my favorite play I was ever in hence this song on the countdown.
  3. Hands by Jewel- Jewel’s Spirit album really spoke to me.  I remember my friends even getting annoyed with me because I would just play it over and over again (that’s so my personality.  Repetition never bothered me). I still love the album and song.
  4. Thy Word by Amy Grant- My Mother and I had a lot of conflict about music.  I felt she judged me too harshly for the music I liked and sought her validation. It was kind of silly looking back on it but Amy Grant was a singer I felt was an olive branch to my Mom.  She was Christian and a pleasant singer we could both agree on.  Thy Word is one of my favorite of her songs.
  5. Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight- REM’s Automatic for the People is another album I listened repeatedly too throughout my teen years.  I still love every song.  This is a deeper cut but it’s got a great hook and I love that you can hear Michael laughing in the take. That’s just awesome.

So those are my Friday 5 and a little updates on things going on.  What about you?  What are your favorite songs from when you were a teenager?  What do you think of my list?

Are you pumped for Batman v Superman and what is your favorite Batman or Superman movie?  How would you rank the Star Wars films?

Sorry this post is a little jumbled but sometimes it just works out that way.  Love you guys!

2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I think you guys might enjoy my thoughts on this year’s Animated Feature Film nominees. What’s your favorite of the year?

Rachel's Reviews

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will…

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Book Review: Life After Life

life after lifeThis week instead of doing a Teaser Tuesday I thought I would share with you my latest book review from off of Goodreads. I read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It’s a clever premise but ends up feeling more like a gimmick by the end. I didn’t hate it but didn’t love it either. It’s about a woman who repeats life over and over again. Sometimes she dies as an infant, sometimes as a child. Sometimes she is raped as a teen, sometimes she has affairs, sometimes she shoots Hitler in 1939. That’s quite the deviance!

I think it would have been better if Ursula had learned more from each life. In the end it feels more like a soap opera with a vaguely time travel element. But not a total loss.

Life After LifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some people will see 2 stars and think ‘how can you hate this book Rachel!’. According to Goodreads 2 stars means ‘it’s ok’ and that’s exactly how I felt about this book. It’s just ok. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it. It’s just ok.
It’s definitely a creative premise. It’s kind of Edge of Tomorrow in WW2 era (wrap your mind aroudn that statement!). But once you get over the unique premise it starts to feel more like a gimmick than a truly good story. After all, how interesting is Ursula really in all of her lives? She’s ok but nothing special.
She does kill Hitler in a life but even that is kind of a footnote. Most of the lessons she learns seem to be how to either not die as a child or not be with a terrible man. That’s not as compelling as killing Hitler. I certainly hope if I relived my life again and again I would make better choices than Ursula does. Perhaps Atkinson is trying to say something about fate and destiny but it ends up being kind of meh.
Still she’s not a terrible writer and there are some engaging sequences. The gimmick has some novelty so I’m glad I read it. It might actually make a better movie than book. I think in a movie you could do things visually that might help it not feel so repetitive and maybe skip a couple of the lives that really didn’t matter much.
Overall, it’s fine but not great. Just ok. Maybe in the sequel she can actually live some interesting lives like bet on the stock market at the right time or something like that? At the very least figure out how to not date losers. Give us that!

View all my reviews

So what do you prefer a review like this after I’ve finished the book or a Teaser Tuesday while I’m in process? Let me know in the comments section. And if you are on goodreads follow me!
Have any of you read Life After Life? What did you think? What are you reading these days?

You Are What You Media Tag

Hey friends!  Today I posted a fun tag over on my channel.  I was tagged by my friend Matthew Aronhalt who is doing a top 300 movies list over on his channel.

The tag asks you to list 3 things that influenced you or made you who you are. I tried to pick stuff that influenced me when I was a little.


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Little Women
  3. Anne of Green Gables


  1. Les Miserables
  2. The Beach Boys
  3. REM


  1. The Simpsons
  2. Fairy Tale Theater
  3. Boy Meets World


  1. Little Mermaid
  2. Home Alone
  3. Clueless

Social Media

  1. Roger Ebert
  2. Rob Cesternino
  3. Car Talk

If any of you would like to do the tag please do! It’s really interesting to think about the media that influenced you.

Here’s Matthew’s tag video