REVIEW | The Spanish Princess

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Howdy!

Two weeks ago, we were given a free weekend of STARZ. It was for four days, but I found out about it on the 5th, I tried to take as much advantage as possible, but I was not happy with myself because I had started watching The Wife on demand on the 6th and wasn’t allowed to finish it. Thankfully, I din’t get too far into it so that helps out a lot. We did get a couple of new movies for our folder, but my main objective out of the whole thing was completing The Spanish Princess!

Even though, I have never read Philippa Gregory’s books about the Plantagenet and Tudor families, I have been a fan of the film and television versions. I actually became interested in Anne Boleyn after watching Natalie Portman play her in The Other Boleyn Girl. Unfortunately, after I saw The Tudors series created by Michael Hirst, and saw Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Natalie Dormer as King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, and Anne Boleyn, I was kind of blown away with their chemistry. so I haven’t been able to watch the previous ever since.

Backstory

I have talked about The White Queen on here, so it’s only right to continue sharing my thoughts about this third series about Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine was the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. At the time when women were looked upon as the lesser sex to royal, these two were co-rulers and fought hard to stay together for the sake of both kingdoms. After Henry Tudor became king and married Elizabeth of York, they welcomed their first son, Arthur, Prince Of Wales. Once he was born, it was important to send a message to everyone that he was the true heir of the English empire, so Henry sought out an opportunity between royal families and arranged a marriage between Arthur and the youngest princess of the Spanish throne: Catherine of Aragon, thus she would become the Princess Of Wales.

Since I know the story of the end of Catherine and Henry VIII’s relationship ends and the fact that he breaks away from the Catholic faith to be able to divorce her in the first place,. it was honestly so hard to learn of how much he loved her after his brother Arthur died. So, being able to watch it flourish on screen in a very fictional way, was a bit difficult but it also made me love the strength of Catherine even more. I have been a strong supporter to Anne Boleyn for many, many years but the way she was treated is so heartbreaking even now.

What I Really Thought

What I really liked about this series was the fact that it gave you all of the stories of Catherine’s life while in England, as she was the wife of both heirs to the throne. And what was left after the final episode of The White Princess, so there’s the story of Margaret Pole and her family. You even get a snippet of Princess Margaret in the process of becoming the newly wife and Queen of Scotland.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this series over the others were you got another element to the story, Catherine came with many ladies-in-waiting when she first came to England, but the two that were featured on the show: Lina and Rosa were very helpful because you got to see their point of view being apart court life. If you were a ladies-in-waiting to the Queen or Princesses, you had a better chance in marrying into a wealthy family. So, the fact that their stories were featured will tell what’s to come when they finally start talking about the Boleyn sisters. As they were both ladies-in-waiting to Catherine.

I have to say, if you hated Margaret Beaufort in the previous series, you definitely will not like her in this one either! I still don’t think she ever acted like that though, but I do believe she loved her son very much and knew in her heart that he deserved the throne because of his bloodline, but the way she is portrayed towards others was really rude! I don’t know if it was because she was getting older and her attitude needed to be even worse than before. The last episode actually made me cry a little because as she realizes her only son, the King has died, we are given a flashback of the day she gave birth to him at 13 years old. You quickly realize that this was a real person, she had a difficult time as both a mother and woman of the differentiating crown.

I think Charlotte Hope, Angus Imrie and Ruairi O’Connor were amazing! I was a bit worried because I didn’t want to judge Charlotte, who plays Catherine because she didn’t look like she could pass for someone in the Spanish Royal family, but I was quickly told by many other fans of the series and supporters of Queen Catherine in general that she never looked like a true Spanish woman like what we would consider one today, and that the real Catherine of Aragon had strawberry-blonde hair! As a historian of any kind, it is normal to find out what you’ve been told all this time is really false, so you can literally deny the claims or accept it and go forward.

After I finished, I was happy that I managed to complete all 8 episodes in basically two days but I knew what is to come and instantly became depressed because they literally bleed out their emotions that I will be lucky to make it through in one piece! Thankfully it’ll take a little more time for them to film season two, but internally I am not ready for it!

What did think of The Spanish Princess? How are you with these fictionalization stories of these big historical figures? Who do you think they should talk about next, Anne Boelyn, Princess Mary, or Mary, Queen of Scots?

Royal Baby | Classic & Popular English Names!

Howdy!

I have been wanting to publish this post for MONTHS! Back in November, I decided to talk to you about all of my thoughts about The Duke and Duchess of Sussex expecting their first child! However, I wanted to have time to really think about the names that this child would be called, and I am finally ready to tell you, plus give you a few other cute English names that could help give you a royal edge as well!

Since it was confirmed that Meghan would either give birth sometime in April or early May, I knew the middle of March would be the perfect time to release this post to the world as part of the last minute pickings before the newest Windsor baby would arrive and we figure out how wrong (or right) we were with our choices! I still believe what I said in my previous post about their child being referred to as “Lord” or “Lady” instead of having a princely title. However, I realized I forgot something important to keep in mind if they do indeed have a boy, and that is the first son is usually given the title “Viscount” and the second son is the one to be called “Lord” or “Honourable”instead! That’s all I wanted to say before we go any further into the post.

One of the differences between The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is that since Prince William is the first son to the throne after his father Charles, Prince Of Wales, is that he and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge needed to use respectful and royalty-type names for their children. Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis are all very well-loved among the public and the royal family. However, I never got that feeling with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess Of Sussex. They are really a royal couple of the modern age. So, I added a section in the picture above of both sexes of names that are usually popular with regular couples in both America and Great Britain. I also needed to keep in mind that instead of using his real name: Henry, he goes by his nickname “Harry” and the same goes with The Duchess as her first name is Rachel when she uses her middle name “Meghan” so when I began to look for possible names for their little one, I had pick out names that could work out for these situations too!

I’m going to begin with talking about the possible girl names. I have four that jumped out at me the most and could be good first names and they were…

HENRIETTA LOUISE: The origins for this name is of course, the female variation of Henry. Although it is an older name, I still think it would be cute to see again. It already has royal quality as it was used with King Charles I’s wife Henrietta Maria. Nicknames include: Hattie, Etta, and Ree.

MATILDA JANE: This name comes from Germany, and means “mighty”. It has shown up throughout the English and Scottish royals. There’s another version that has been pretty popular throughout the many generations of the royal family, and that is “Maud” but I feel this has some promise because it’s sweet and sort of a formal name to use the name “Tillie” as this has grown in popularity recently. Nicknames include: Mattie, and Tilda.

NORA ELIZABETH: I picked this because it could play out as both a first name or a nickname for the name “Eleanor” instead. Nora is adorable and little that I feel like it has a big following, especially over the last couple of years. The name Eleanor, has been used a lot throughout British history, the first one to come to mind is Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen Consort of Henry II of England.

SOPHIA DIANA: This has been my #1 pick for the past four months! It was really popular here in the US for a few years, and I feel it is still is well-used but I think it could gain the top spot back on the various yearly name lists if they use it too. Unfortunately, the name “Sophia” hasn’t been used among the royals as much. The last one was King George III’s wife and Queen Consort, Sophia Charlotte, and their daughter Princess Sophia, she never married and has no descendants. Nicknames include: Sophie and Fia.

Now it is time for the boy names and I don’t know why, but I always have difficulty coming up with clever boy names. Trust me, I didn’t feel like I was much help to my sister when she found out that she was having a boy instead of a girl. However, there are a few names on this list that are a better chance of appearing with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, so I hope you like this mini stack of names too!

CHARLES HENRY: I think after Prince Louis’s birth and name reveal, everybody started to realize that the royal family really like to repeat names, especially if they have a strong meaning for the couple! That’s why I picked Charles, because let’s face it, there is a greater chance of this name showing up than Meghan’s own father! The name Charles though has had a bad rap throughout British royal history, such as the beheading of King Charles I, but since times have changed and evolved, I think the name can take a whole new life in the modern world! Nicknames include: Charlie and Hank.

NICHOLAS GEORGE: The name Nicholas isn’t common among the British royal family, as much as other monarchies around the world. The reason why I put it on the traditional side is because, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was first cousins to George V. I think the name is very strong and kind of spunky, I’ve always loved it and it would be nice to see it here! Nicknames include: Nick, Nicky, and Nico.

OLIVER WILLIAM: Now when I was thinking of the lesser classical names, I was pretty stumped for a good few months. So, I had to look online at various baby name websites to see what was popular in the last year and Oliver jumped out at me and I thought, this is really cute! It has the sophistication to be a possible royal name, but it has also has its modern flare as well. And I can definitely see the nickname “Ollie” being used for him too!

SPENCER JOSEPH: This is the name that everybody is hoping and praying for, since Prince Harry is seen to be more attached to Princess Diana’s family legacy and her siblings. Since my last post, I discussed that there could be a small possibility that if the first born son, could be awarded with the title of Earl of Spencer down the line, but after finding out that the current heir, Charles, has two sons, it kind of made me rethink my original notion. I think the name itself is very regal, and cute for a baby boy of the 21st Century! Nicknames include: Spence, Joe, and Joey.

Before I go, I wanted to let you all know that I will be starting a “little” tag on my blog’s Facebook page starting in April! It’s called the ABC Baby Names Tag and instead of doing it all at once, I’ve separated it out into six months. So, every Wednesday from April to the end of September, there will be TWO names for every letter of the alphabet. I would love for you to list your favorites in the comments each week too!

So, now I am officially finished with the post! I’m comfortable with my last minute choices and I believe any one of them have a strong case against them! My mom was very surprised with them as well! And now we wait…

Are you curious as to what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will name their child? Do you have any guesses as to what he or she could be named too? Let me know!

5 Favorite Shows About Nature & Culture

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Howdy!

I’ve always had a difficult time watching nature documentary series on Animal Planet, mostly because I never really liked when the hunters went after their prey, most of the time they were capturing young and giving it to THEIR babies! When I started watching some nature shows on Netflix over the summer, I kind of hoped I was over that but then I realized that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can never really be over that aspect of life in the animal kingdom! Truth be told, I’ve been watching nature shows for a long time on PBS, but it’s only now that I’ve kind of deluge a fairly large amount at one time. In my defense, prior to this happening I was binge watching both Arrow and The Flash, so I felt this would be a nice break away from the superheroes, I just didn’t think I would keep watching one right after the other like I did, but it’s been sort of helpful when it comes watching episodes of Jeopardy!

I am more drawn to the series that were made by a British or Australian company, but only because there are in two these areas on Netflix than any other country! I also like when there are people narrating each episode to the viewer, like the visual version of Audible! Thanks to this, I have become a bit of a fan of Sir David Attenborough. I’m embarrassed to say that I have watched close to three different ones where’s either in it or narrating what you’re seeing on the screen!

Galapagos (2006)

This was the first show I watched in July that basically started it all and it was narrated by the lovely Tilda Swinton. I think I watched this because I remembered that Jeopardy were running a contest for fans of the show to win tickets to go there with Alex Trebek last year. I figured that meant they would have several categories about it and I should get some knowledge about the Islands of The Tortoises.

I really loved this program! I found the fact that various birds, turtles, and seals all on this very unstable, volcanic place where hardly anything grows. The first episode basically opens up with what really surprised me, was that iguanas also live close to the edge of the cliffs. They actually live on a side where there’s an active volcano so the surface doesn’t really have anything for these creatures to eat, so they have developed a taste of algae at the bottom of the ocean. So, these spike-y little devils literally crawl to the ledge where the water is being brushed up the sides of the island by the currents and either jump or slide right down and they can SWIM! Now the really cool, and sort of adorable thing I loved about them is that when they finally come back to shore, since swallowing salt water is bad for them, they sneeze out the water out of the nose! I was really dumbfounded by this adaption.

South Pacific (2009)

This was a six episode series, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, I have to say, I watch funny moments on the Graham Norton show on YouTube a lot, and there was a clip of Benedict discussing with Graham about how he says the word “penguin” and it was funny as crap, if you want to check it out here you click here. Anyways, it was about a year or so, since I watched that clip and I finally watched the show and realized that he definitely can’t say that word right at all, even in a British accent, it still sounds bad!

“South Pacific” was about all of the islands in their different shapes and what kind of life they support around the Pacific Ocean. One of my favorite things about these types of shows is that it gives you an insight of life on these islands, not only for the animals, but humans too! You see tribes of people, living off the land and they’re so out there away from other people. We did visit the Galapagos Islands again throughout the series, but you were transported to other smaller islands, I really enjoyed learning about the different plants, when editors use the fast-moving on how fast the landscape changes! I actually fell in love with the Birds of Paradise species, and they are usually located on New Guinea and Hawaii, but they are decorated in different colors and shapes with really unique ways of attracting a mate and fighting to be with that female as well. It can get a little weird, but their dances make it all worthwhile trust me!

National Curiosities (2013)

This show was the longest out of the whole list! It had probably 12 episodes in the three seasons it was on BBC, but what I truly liked was that they are about an hour-long, but they’re comparing origin stories of two different species so you kind of need that amount of time to explain what makes these animals so complex.

When I would watch this, I always felt like I was becoming more of a naturalist, like David Attenborough. He has this caring personality and it shows whenever he has an animal next to him or sitting on his lap, you can feel that affection aerate on the screen and it makes you want to change your mind on some of the creepy species and help support them later on, although it didn’t work on spiders or snakes! One thing that he does on this is that he’ll talk about how they discovered, and the evolution of theories they had for each one, my favorite was when they thought Platypus were a hoax in the 1800’s!

Monkey Planet (2014)

Monkey Planet was my most recent to watch and I really enjoyed myself! It was hosted by Dr. George McGavin and even though this was only three episodes, I have realized that it doesn’t take much for me to giggle as these mischievous monkeys were really my downfall when it came to watching this late at night!

I’ve always loved monkeys, but while I was watching this I realized that I don’t give them enough credit when it comes to their intelligence. I mean, they are our distant relatives. At first, I was purely watching it because I wanted to learn more about the different types, but instead of having an episode devoted to a certain type, they were squished together but after a while I was okay with it. The colors of their fur and cute facial expressions were too much and once I found out how they all get their food by banging rocks up against tough shells or grabbing a stick of some sort and poking it through small holes in a branch about killed me in the best way possible!

Baby Animals In The Wild (2015)

I really have a problem with baby animals, thankfully no babies were harmed in creating this series, thank god! This was hosted by Luisa Prosser, and consisted of 10 episodes ranging of animals located in deserts, forest, jungles, and mountains. There were times in the program where they would share snapshots of babies in captivity so you got to see them after they were just born or a few weeks old, and told about their characteristics in the wild.

I think the two places that made me wonder why these animals would still want to live in these areas where the arctic mountains and desert. However, once I saw how they were able to live, I had a change of heart pretty quickly and the one species that really grabbed me was the Ibex. The mothers give birth on top of their dry cliffs and after a few days and the babies figure out their footing, the mothers need to get around food and water so they go down these steep cliffs and their kids just follow them down, some of them being overzealous and sprint down that made me very queasy but they have these pads on their hoofs that help grip the rocks underneath to keep them stable, but good gosh! It made me really nervous, but nobody lost their balance so that made me feel better!

I have to say, it was extremely hard to pick out five shows for this post, because I have watched little over 12 of them in the several months, but they’re surprisingly fun to watch. You’re seeing these animals having a blast on top of having to continue searching for food and water, and they all have information stored up in their minds from previous generations. The fact that some of them are still able to live in their natural environment like in a dry savanna of West Africa or lush woods in the middle of France was so cool, but I’m not going to lie when I say seeing the monkeys steal fruits and vegetables off of market stands in India cracks me up! It was just so fascinating to me!

How are you when it comes to nature and cultural shows? Was there one that really made you go, “wow”? And just for good measure, what is your favorite animal(s)?

snowflake

Another Royal Baby | Name + Royal Title Predictions

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Howdy!

Last year, I wrote a post about Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden had welcomed their second son, Prince Gabriel and of course how I felt about the announcement of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge expecting their third child. Before I started writing this, I decided to reread what I had predicted and I was really convinced that they were having a girl and I was a bit shocked when The Duchess had Prince Louis, but in the end I grew into the fact that I was wrong. I mean, I was even wrong with my nephew’s gender too!

I just want to say before we really start on this post. Everything below are just some of my thinking of what could happen next spring. It could all change and I would be thrilled either way! I’m just a fan and mini historian of the royals so I wanted to air out some of my thoughts today, so I hope you enjoy this little read.

Now we know that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now expecting their first child! I didn’t have to look it up on Facebook, it was the first thing my mom told me after getting me up to go to the bathroom the morning the news broke! I am really excited for another royal baby, but I feel so bad for Meghan as her family will definitely want to ante up on their tactics to not only speak to her but see their grandchild, niece or nephew and the tabloids are just going to eat it up as it continues on!

Since it is very early to be talking about what kind of names could the Duke and Duchess use for their child. I always wonder if it would be easier to guess the names if you knew what the gender was, but with the royal family, you can never really know what they like or not as I’ve found out recently! There is the possibility of them using their mothers for inspiration. Since The Prince Of Wales, basically was generous enough to walk Meghan down the aisle of the wedding, there’s a big possibility that “Charles” would be in the top 10, but I really doubt the name “Thomas” will be used at all, for obvious reasons! And then I wonder if they would choose an American name in there? There’s just a lot to think about when it comes to names, so that’s why I will wait a bit to say what kind of names I like and could be in the running for their baby.

Lastly, there has been some talk about whether or not this baby will be given princely titles. My mom and I got on the discussion about this recently and I had to explain the different scenarios. Could their child have a royal title? It honestly really depends. There have been websites stating the fact that yes, it can be done but only if Queen Elizabeth says so, but that’s not exactly true either!

Despite the fact that Prince Harry was given a dukedom when he got married, that doesn’t exactly mean they’re children will have princely titles. The best example of this is Prince Michael, Duke of Kent and his wife The Princess of Kent. As you can see, even though he is a “Prince” as a first cousin to Queen Elizabeth, his children are actually called Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor. The Duke conducts royal engagements for the Queen to this day, but his children do not as they are far in the royal line. So, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle children will either be a Lord or Lady most likely.

There is a possibility that Queen Elizabeth could give their child a title, yes, but even if she doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that it could never happen at all. One thing to keep in mind if they were to have a son, is that when Prince Harry passes, his dukedom will be transferred over to the eldest son, thus becoming the 2nd Duke of Sussex. Now there is another way, but it is a long shot; since Harry is still very close to his maternal uncle Charles Spencer, 9th Earl of Spencer, again this is where having a son can help carry on the family titles, he could inherit the Earl’s title. However, their a couple of difficulties as Earl has two sons, the Louis Spencer, Viscount of Althorp and The Honourable Edmund Spencer. And there’s the chance that the earldom could be transferred to Prince Louis of Cambridge instead. So the chances of The Duke’s son gaining those family titles are pretty slim but it could happen and has in the past. After Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, older brother Prince Ernest of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha died without having a son, The Queen and Prince Consort’s second son Prince Alfred was awarded the Dukedom in 1893.

Personally, I am on the fence about their children having any royal titles. One thing that I’ve noticed about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is that they are really laid back compared to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge mostly because that line of succession is basically secured with their children behind them. According to news outlets, Prince Harry has been saying that they want to raise their family out of the limelight, which I don’t really see this being a possibility, because people are fairly obsessed with the both of them, it’s only going to get bigger when this child or any more are born in the near future.

However personally, this child could be raised somewhat normal, kind of like the Princess Royal’s children and grandchildren. They do not have any titles and live their lives, with that exception of the public knowing everything. Since they will all be apart of the younger generation of the Royal House of Windsor, they definitely will have people watching their every move so it wouldn’t really matter if they had a title after all.

So, what do you think about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex expecting their first child? Do you have any early name guesses? What do you think about a royal title for the little royal?

snowflake

What Is My Happy Place?

happy

Howdy!

As promised in my post of Alison Wonderland’s album review, I’m talking about my happy place.

I actually had some issues when it came to putting a title together, I kept second guessing myself with saying either “what” or “where” is my happy place, because for many people out there, that exact place may not even exist. Maybe at one point of time, but it’s not there anymore.

So what is mine? It’s kind of like asking what my ideal day would be, it’s a hard question to answer. For most people, they’d probably say it would either be outside with the cats or sitting in front of my laptop, blogging, tweeting on end and I can’t blame them for automatically assuming those statuses, but it’s far from the truth.

As you may know, I love both history and music a lot. I do a massive amount of research for both topics on a weekly basis, because I am so interested in them, but not a lot of people know the back stories of them though and why I won’t exactly go to school for either subject, and that’s what I’m going to be discussing in today’s post.


First off, history. I’ve always been into various areas of history since elementary school. I remember learning about Pompeii while I was in third grade, we were given these little magazines and our teacher allowed us to look through and it had dinosaurs in it – this was before scientists were brave enough to tell us kids that they are more related to birds, and so had feathers! Anywho, it also had a section about the burnt bodies of both Pompeii and Herculean. I wasn’t allowed to watch too much gore-y stuff on TV at this time, but something about this was fascinating to me! I cannot tell you how many documentaries I’ve watched over the years about this one event.

I’ve never really been interested in learning American history. In my defense, having to take history classes every year was a little annoying! It was forced down your throat and it never became fun until I hit both of my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had World History and U.S. History, and even though we only had two weeks to learn one section at a time, I actually had pretty good grades in both of those classes!

Now you’re probably wondering how did my obsession for the British royals come about? Well, I like to throw the blame at my mom because she loved Lady Diana Spencer and still hates Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall! Honestly though, I wasn’t really interested in the royals as a kid. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I watched The Other Boleyn Girl and I was really curious about these early royals. At the end of the film, it gives you little pieces of information of what happened next and discusses Queen Elizabeth and it placed an “I” after her name and I did not what that meant and I kind of got curious about who was the second Queen Elizabeth and that’s how it happened!

Now let’s talk about the music part.

I had different family members trying to influence me in some way, but I don’t think anybody wiggled their way through the maze better than my mother! Since she was a teenager in the 1980’s, she was into the early days of hip hop and so I was given N.W.A., The Notorious B.I.G., and Salt n Pepa at a very young age. I was very much into West Coast rap music  because of her. She also got me into Mariah Carey and Prince too. So it was a whole array of different music coming and going whenever I was around her.

The runner up of the pack would have been my papaw. I have a lot memories of him listening to his fairly large stereo system in the living room. My nana hated it because he would have the volume up pretty loud, Christmas at my grandparent’s was interesting from time to time because it was sort of a tradition to have a Stan Kenton holiday album playing as everybody was unwrapping their gifts, but towards the early 00’s, his stereo suddenly stopped working altogether. He always said something was broken. He used to have a LOT of records, mostly of Stan Kenton, but he also had some Nat King Cole in there too, which I’ve always found interesting but in his defense, my papaw liked playing the piano so he generally wanted to learn to anybody who was good at that specific instrument.

Once I was in school, I was always influenced by what my friends were listening to, which is probably how I got into the boy bands. I actually don’t remember how I came about the Backstreet Boys. And I usually remember everybody’s origin story if you will, so the fact that I cannot figure it out is weird to me. Anyways, once I hit the end of high school and discovered the joy of rock music, I really dived into the genre as a whole and since I had nobody else, that was really telling me to check these bands out, I really got to do the learning all by myself and in those five years, I can safely say that I respect the pioneers but enjoy the modern rockers and different subgenres.

So these are my happy places, discovering new music for not only myself but for other people, which is one of the reasons why I was so into the idea of adding “music” to my normal routine on here! As for learning and speaking about different parts of history, especially the royal department, I am getting more comfortable about discussing it online but not exactly on here yet. That’s why I enjoy creating different themes with History Of Royal Women, because it’s a place where I can truly be out in the open with myself. They both have ways to keep me happy and distracted at times too!

What is your happy place?

snowflake

Album Review: “Sign Of The Dragonhead” by Leaves’ Eyes

23131766_10156007791623901_1988138923982422649_nYou guys know how much I love symphonic metal music, right? Leaves’ Eyes is one of the numerous bands cranking out amazing music to its fans! The five piece band consists of Joris Njenhuis on drums, Pete Streit plays guitar while Thorstein Bauer does bass and to round it out the band has two vocalists: Alexander Krull and the newest member Elina Sirala. “Sign Of The Dragonhead” is Elina’s first record with the band. The album was released on January 12th, and as you can see from the artwork on the side that it involves the Vikings and their mythology!

We start the album with the title track, and I will say I hadn’t heard of Elina’s voice before I decided to review the album, so everything is completely new to me. I actually like her voice, it’s deep and not overwhelming as some singers I’ve heard in the past. It has a soft and sweet undertone to it, which works out great with Alexander’s harsh vocals. As far as the song as a whole, I’m not really a fan of it. I feel like it was rushed, however I did like the introduction. It gave you the scene that you were about to be transported out of there. I also liked the pipes as well. It added a nice gentle Celtic tone to it. Second is “Across The Sea” and you instantly hear this playful sound, that always reminds me of voyagers on a boat, the heavy guitars give you that other added element to it, but it’s all good and keeps the listener upbeat to hear the story.

Next we have “Like A Mountain” and I really liked the soft beginning, just hearing only a piano with Elina’s voice was beautiful, but of course we can’t stay in that direction. It doesn’t change into a jam-packed harsh song. It actually stays pretty neutral in sound, so it has a good melody to follow, and shows the beauty in Elina’s voice too! Leaves’ Eyes has had a history of using all kinds of languages in their lyrics: English, Irish and of course a form of the Viking language too! So the song “Jomsborg” is no surprise to me. I looked up the title to see what kind of information it could give me and according to Google, it was a legendary Viking stronghold on the coast of the Baltic sea. You have the same vibe that you get while listening to the second track, but I always find it cooler to see bands be inspired by real things, if it’s people or structures, it doesn’t matter. I love it!

And then we continue with the same inspiration, with the song “Völva” that tells you about a pagan Norse shaman. She would be considered a seer or prophet to the Vikings and their religion. If you want a better description: think of Gambit from the Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit books and films! I think it has a very playful sound, but it also has an exotic vibe going on too! It’s a very pretty song! This next one though, as soon as I heard it, I didn’t know what to exactly think of it. I mean, it’s not bad, kind of unique because it sounds like a jam session happened and they recorded it as it was. The song is called “Rides Of The Wind” and I do like the addition of the choir during the choruses but this one has me all confused! No wonder people who don’t normally listen to symphonic metal have a huge opinion or chip on their shoulders about the changes of their beloved genre, this is a weird one,

We’re heading to the end, the last five tracks of the standard edition. We have “Fairer Than The Sun” and after the previous one, my expectation was a little low because I was surprised once, it could certainly happen again! I’m happy to say that it definitely a little quieter compared to the others. I’d consider it a ballad in a way because it has a dreamy quality to it. Nice change! The eigth song is “Shadows Of The Night” and we’re out of our dreams now, back to the nightmares! I think the song is good, but I feel like there’s nothing giving it a special element to it, which sucks because it sounded like it had potential. And now have “Rulers Of The Wind And Waves” and you definitely get the true sailing viking tone in this song. I’m also happy to say that it’s an instrumental! There’s really nothing that makes me happy more than that honestly! It’s also a nice break too.

Now we have the last two songs, starting with “Fires In The North” and it has a bit of the vibe of the track before it. I like it. The more I listened to it, the more I started to really pay attention to the lyrics. That’s one thing that is difficult to do in this genre, because of the fact that there’s many elements, between Elina’s operatic vocals and Alexander’s darker growls along with the sound of the song together can be choatic at times! Lastly, there’s “Waves Of Euphoria” and it was nice to hear a true epic symphonic metal at the ending of the album. You recognize the horn in the beginning, keeping with the viking mythology there and after the long intro, the guitars come alive and it’s actually really good. It sounds like a normal Leaves’ Eyes.

The real question is whether or not I liked the album as a whole? Honestly, I don’t think any of their newer material will be able to top Symphonies Of The Night that was released in 2013. I did like it though, it just wasn’t at that level as this album.

Have you heard “Sign Of The Dragonhead” yet? Do you have a favorite on it yet? Let me know!

snowflake

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

968Everybody loves a good conspiracy. 

The first full day I spent at the nursing home back in October, a CNA was pushing me down to my nana’s room for breakfast and we passed the smaller activity room on our way there and I saw this book staring at me and it was semi dark in the room so I was still shocked that I even saw it at all. A little later, my nana and I went exploring and we went in here to check out the rest of the books and I ended up grabbing it on our way out the door. I stayed there eight days and read over 200+ pages!

Now I have watched the movie but I had only seen it once and it’s been a few years since I’ve watched the whole thing. I’ve finally caught up on the other two films, but I didn’t know they were based off of books! One thing that is definitely different from the two is that the movies are out of order of the books. I found that out the hard way! There’s a character in Angels & Demons that comes up in this book too but it’s only a few times, but it can still get kind of confusing at times!

If you don’t know what the book is about, it follows a Harvard symbolist professor Robert Langdon, he is in Paris, France doing a lecture for his newest book and he gets called up in the early morning that he is needed by the French police to help, the curator of the Lourve, Jacques Saunière is dead. When Robert tries to crack the code on Jacques’ body, they are interrupted by a cryptologist Sophie Neveu and she tries to help Robert and French police captain Bezu Fache figure out not only who killed Jacques but why he would basically mutilate his body in such a way.

The second batch of people in the book starts with the story of Silas. A character that I remember wasn’t explained very much in the film. The name “Silas” isn’t his real name, he was given the name by fellow Bishop Aringarosa after he rescues him. Silas is an albino with a troubled past and he wants to help Aringarosa’s cause of the Opus Dei and find the Holy Grail, even if he has to kill the leaders of another secret society the Priory of Sion.

The story itself has a lot of information. And I mean, a LOT of stuff that you need to digest at one time. It does make you question everything that you’ve been taught like if you went to church a lot as a child. It does make you wonder about if there is some truth in the bible, if it’s just made up by people. I’ve always questioned the belief in that, although I do believe in a higher power and I think they do watch over me, but I don’t know if it’s a God. And the possibility of Jesus having a child with Mary Magdelene has fascinated me for years too! It is just interesting to read about the other things that could be true.

If you like conspiracies like me, you will love this book as a whole, but unfortunately I had a lot of cons about it too. I absolutely hated the writing style. The chapters were incredibly small. You’d go back and forth on the different point of views of the many characters, when you’re only given a page and a half on each person and the events that followed. Another thing that gets on your nerves is that the author will include both French and Latin, which is fine, but it’s only later in the chapters that he actually adds some of the translated words at the end. So you literally have no idea what went on with those characters unless you have a dictionary for both languages!

I grabbed the last book of series Inferno, on the last day I was there. I have been thinking about whether or not to go ahead and read it, because there is also another book before it. Yeah, not only did I read book two, I also found out that there’s a third book that I never knew about at all because they haven’t done a movie about it. They were supposed to though. I’m hoping there won’t be much included in The Lost Symbol so I can go ahead and check that out, but I think it’s just best to wait until I can purchase that book and attempt to stay in order here.

Have you read The Da Vinci Code yet? Or possibly watched the movie? What were your thoughts about either one? And let’s not get on the discussion of religion, okay? Let’s be respectful here.

snowflake