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Leanna "moondance34" RSS Feed (South Deerfield, MA USA)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Addicted to HPANA, August 11, 2005
I've been visiting HPANA for over a year now. I found it when searching for the then just-released title of the sixth Harry Potter book. Shortly after that, I joined the site. I'm very, very glad that I did. HPANA has a very cool system of points, and the more points you have, the higher your ranking. Points are earned by reading news articles, posting in forums, etc. It's a great way to get otherwise shy people to participate in discussions on the site. The forums are a great way to meet fellow fans and talk about almost anything (including non-HP stuff).

HPANA is my main source for HP news, and I find myself visiting it many times a day to participate in discussions and games in the forums. I would highly recommend a visit to even casual Harry Potter fans. You won't regret it!


Van Helsing - The London Assignment (Animated)
Van Helsing - The London Assignment (Animated)
DVD ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $3.99
318 used & new from $0.01

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good, July 6, 2004
Being a Hugh Jackman fan and having only recently heard about "The London Assignment," the short animated prequel to the film "Van Helsing," I decided to see what it was like. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. The animation was better than I expected and much easier to watch than the animation in some of the segments of "The Animatrix." I also was intrigued by the story of Van Helsing's struggle against Mr. Hyde. It gave much needed background and meaning to the Paris chase sequence of the film and introduced viewers to Van Helsing's connection to Carl. I really wish that I had seen "The London Assignment" before I saw "Van Helsing" in theaters. However, the most enjoyable aspect of "The London Assignment" was the fact that the principal actors (Jackman, David Wenham, Robbie Coltrane) lent their voices to their respective characters. The dialogue was similar to that in the movie, especially between Van Helsing and Carl. :-)
Also worth mentioning are the bonus features on the disc. There is a fairly good making-of documentary that is approximately thirty minutes long. It has plenty of snippets of cast/crew interviews. There is a *very* brief (as in three-four minutes:-() interview of Hugh Jackman as well as another short documentary about the making of the "Van Helsing" video game. The only truly "London Assignment"-related bonus feature contrasts the early storyboard sketches with the final product.
Bottom Line: Entertaining for Hugh Jackman fans and "Van Helsing" fans. Definitely worth renting at least once, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it (well, not yet at least;-)).


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Price: $8.64
135 used & new from $0.10

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the Trilogy, December 29, 2003
Being a huge fan of Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings" music, I went out and bought "The Return of the King" soundtrack on the first day. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but, after listening to it a few times, I quickly realized how fantastic it was.
RotK is very different from the first two discs. I would never have thought Howard Shore could outdo himself once again, but I believe RotK far surpasses its predecessors. A few themes carry over from the previous soundtracks (i.e. the Rohan and Rivendell themes). Others sound vaguely familiar, but overall Shore has given RotK a completely different feel. By incorporating recognizable themes with new ones, he has given the soundtrack even more emotional pull as it gently reminds us of past events.
The pacing on this CD, as on "The Two Towers," is much more even than on "Fellowship." Time (72 minutes to be exact) just flies by when I listen to it, as the exciting, slow, and beautiful tracks are all spread out more or less.
Also worth mentioning is the closing song, "Into the West." It is my favorite of the three closing songs. Annie Lennox sings it very nicely, but I believe its true power lies in the words. They masterfully reflect the bittersweet nature of the story's ending.
Standout Tracks:
"Minas Tirith"~ very upbeat brass features and fantastic choral work by the London Voices and Ben del Maestro
"The White Tree"~ my favorite track; I love the strings in the background during the signal beacon lighting sequence
"Shelob's Lair"~ very effective and creepy
"The Fields of the Pelennor"~ more amazing choral work paired with brass
"The Black Gate Opens"~ great tin whistle solo by Sir James Galway; ends with the "Into the West" theme
"Into the West"~ I love how the words portray the ending; fun to sing along to
Bottom Line: A true joy to listen to and must-have for any LotR fan! You won't regret buying this one. EVER!!!!


Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Price: $10.99
104 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho! 4.5 Stars!, August 20, 2003
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" is one of the best soundtracks I've come across in quite some time. It is an exciting, amusing, and highly enjoyable listen. From the almost Celtic theme on "Fog Bound" and "Walk the Plank" to the classic action theme on tracks like "Bootstrap's Bootstraps"and "He's a Pirate" to the 'bad pirate' theme on "Swords Crossed", musically it delivers on all levels. The music is a lot of fun to hum along with, which I tend to look for in a soundtrack.
This was my first experience with Klaus Badelt's work, and while Hans Zimmer's influence is obvious to anyone familiar with the "Gladiator" and "Pearl Harbor" soundtracks, he seems to be a rising star in the world of movie music. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another of his soundtracks in the future.
My one complaint about this CD has nothing to do with the music itself but rather with its length. It is fairly short as far as soundtracks go, clocking in at 43:37. I prefer the 60+ min. ones, especially when accompanying a movie, like "Pirates," that is longer than 2 hours. However, the shortness of the disc does not detract significantly, which is why I give it an enthusiastic 4.5 stars!
Standout Tracks:
"The Medallion Calls"~ Very upbeat, I can so see Jack sailing in on his sinking ship!
"Swords Crossed"~ The deliciously creepy theme played on the Black Pearl while Elizabeth is harassed by the skeletal pirates
"Barbossa is Hungry"~ My favorite track, very exciting, great percussion
"Skull and Crossbones"~ The essence of the pirate/action theme
Bottom Line: A solid investment to be enjoyed again and again!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.59
1405 used & new from $0.01

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unbelievable disappointment, June 26, 2003
Like many of you, I was in a bookstore on Friday, June 20, highly anticipating buying my copy of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."  I'd been waiting nearly three years for this night when I could finally continue my literary journey through Hogwarts.  I was excited as the book began.  The intro grabbed me immediately and held me for a few hundred pages.  Then my attention began to wander as Rowling drifted off on seemingly unrelated tangents.  The plot slowed rapidly, and I found myself plunging through the multitude of pages, not because I was anxious about what would happen, but because I wanted to find out whose death Rowling cried so miserably over (which, incidentally, I read about in an MSNBC article where Rowling was quoted as saying if "you are writing children's books, you need to be a ruthless killer").  Determinedly, as I read my way towards the end, the action started to pick up again.
And then I encountered the much-talked-of death.  It was absolutely awful (I'll openly admit that I cried quite freely) and utterly unnecessary.  The story was no more enhanced or made darker by the death than "Goblet of Fire" was.  The fact that Rowling mentioned it in interviews beforehand made it even worse because I knew that something dreadful was coming.  Horribly painful as it was, it felt like Rowling just stuck it in there to cause more trouble for Harry.  I didn't feel like the circumstances of it  made a whole lot of sense, which made me even angrier and quite hesitant to read the next two books.  I can only hope that the death will serve some greater purpose in the following books.
My major complaint about this book is the plot, or lack thereof.  The sense of mystery and wonder that surrounds the events in the first four novels is glaringly missing.  There was no moment of startling revelation and shock. The customary Dumbledore chat in the denouement left me cold and didn't reveal all that much.  Perhaps I'm too familiar with the wizarding world now, but I really wonder if Rowling has maybe (hopefully temporarily) lost her touch.  I left the book feeling quite hollow with disappointment and rage.  There was no satisfaction to be had, no sense of accomplishment when I finished.
Another important aspect that I feel I need to discuss (and this is not just a problem in this book but in all five) is the interactions between the four houses.  It is automatically Slytherin versus Gryffindor, and the other houses are of little importance except to back Gryffindor in key situations.  The stereotypes propagated about the kinds of students in each house is also strange in this time of excessive political correctness.  It is aggravating that everyone in Slytherin is filled with exclusively evil people while the other houses are home to decent people.  I've also always wondered why Slytherin, when everyone knows that it produces a plethora of dark witches and wizards, is allowed to continue breeding its dark members.
It is also interesting to note the changes that adolescence is causing in Harry.  He is a completely different person from the calm and collected mature young man depicted in books one through four.  He is now almost disturbingly manic, and his fits of anger were brief yet volatile. Harry's choices and selective memory were a constant source of irritation.
Harry is also completely dominating the story now.  Sadly, Ron and Hermione are playing increasingly smaller roles, and Hagrid is practically nonexistent.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing or a good thing.  It's Rowling's choice, and I'm hoping that her reason for it will become clear later on.
There are a few upsides, however, which I will mention.  The dialogue is kept in its British form and enhances the interactions and true personalities of the characters (even though I was slightly confused by some phrases). As always, Fred and George provided some much needed comic relief.  I also enjoyed a few individual chapters for their own merits.  I loved the background given on Sirius' family in "The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" and Harry's experiences in "Snape's Worst Memory."
Bottom Line:  I guess it's worth reading if you're a Harry Potter fan, but it falls far short of the hype surrounding it.  Easily the weakest book in the series


Meteora
Meteora
Price: $8.99
177 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, May 27, 2003
This review is from: Meteora (Audio CD)
I've been a Linkin Park fan since they released "In the End," so naturally I excited when I found out about the release of their second album, Meteora. Once I got my hands on the CD, I couldn't stop listening to it.
Yes, it sounds similar to Hybrid Theory, but since when does a band have to completely revolutionize their sound for each album? Meteora is only similar to Hybrid Theory on the surface. It has much more musical depth and diversity. It ranges from the soft/dance-like "Breaking the Habit" to the hip-hop flavored "Hit the Floor" to the heavy "Lying From You." The comparatively extensive album notes give info on the writing process behind each song and explain LP's musical goals.
The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the way that Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda so seamlessly blend their vocals. The transition between the singing and rapping is always smooth and creates a unique sound. I also love the way that Chester can alternate between singing and screaming and control the feel of the music as he does so.
Standout Tracks:
"Breaking the Habit"~ Strangely enough, this song is almost danceable.
"Nobody's Listening"~ I love the Japanese flute in the background.
"Numb"~ The intro sucks you right in and never lets go.
"Faint"~ Crazy fast intro.
"Easier to Run"~ I love the rap chorus.
Bottom Line: Even better than the amazing Hybrid Theory. Give this CD a chance! You won't regret it.


Fallen
Fallen
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $7.19
305 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting but still good!, May 27, 2003
This review is from: Fallen (Audio CD)
I bought Evanescence's Fallen based on hearing their single "Bring Me to Life" on the radio. It reminded me somewhat of Linkin Park (and I'm a huge Linkin Park fan), so I decided to buy it, hoping it would be similar. I couldn't have been more wrong. The only song that resembles Linkin Park is "Bring Me to Life." All of the others are vastly different.
On my first listen through, I was extremely disappointed at the lack of the rap/metal mix that I was expecting. Thankfully, I gave the CD a few more chances, and was I ever rewarded.
Evanescence's sound is truly unique and is set apart by Amy Lee's hauntingly beautiful voice. She lends emotion to every lyric she sings, and her voice is never overshadowed by the musical accompaniment. The band also shows considerable versatility. Fallen ranges from melancholy ballads ("My Immortal," "Hello") to angry songs ("Haunted," "Tourniquet")
Standout Tracks:
"Imaginary"~ The images conjured by the lyrics are stunningly vivid and easy for me to identify with.
"My Last Breath"~ I really just like how this song feels. The music and vocals mesh especially well here.
"Whisper"~ The monk-like chorus at the end was such a treat!
"My Immortal"~ Sad but oh so beautiful.
Bottom Line: A very worthwhile CD that most music fans should be able to enjoy. Just don't expect the entire CD to sound like Linkin Park with a girl. Enjoy!


The Silver Gryphon (Mage Wars)
The Silver Gryphon (Mage Wars)
by Mercedes Lackey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
144 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, March 23, 2003
It has been twelve years since the city of White Gryphon became a part of the Haighlei Empire. The kestra'chern Amberdrake and his friend, the gryphon Skandranon, and their families have lived in relative peace. Amberdrake's daughter, Silverblade, and Skan's son, Tadrith, have grown up and are now members of White Gryphon's elite guard, the Silver Gryphons. They are given their first assignment: a remote rain forest post on the Haighlei border. Despite their parents' misgivings and concern, the two set out. Along the way, a mysterious force suddenly sucks the mage energy out of their equipment, causing Blade and Tad to crash. Injured and unable to call for help, will the two be able to outrun and outwit a deadly enemy they have never encountered before?
"The Silver Gryphon" is the third book in Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon's Mage Wars Series. As with the previous two books, Dixon's influence on the text will be apparent to Lackey fans. It is easily the weakest of the three, although it is still a worthwhile read for experienced Valdemar fans.
I really enjoyed the characters, especially Tadrith. He was a lot of fun and demonstrated all of the entertaining male gryphon quirks that have been present in Skan and Treyvan of Mage Storms and Mage Winds. I didn't like Blade so much at first, mainly because I was hoping she'd be more like Amberdrake (one of my favorite Valdemar characters), but she grew on me as the story went on. I came to appreciate her strength and courage. And of course it was a pleasure to read about Amberdrake and Skan again, even if only for a relatively small portion of the book.
The action in this book was quite good. There was ample suspense as Blade and Tad were chased and hunted (I won't mention by what as some other reviews have because I feel it ruins the surprise). The climax was also very tense and exciting.
My major complaint (and it really is a trend in Lackey's books) is the rushed feeling I came away with after completing the book. However, this book felt even more rushed than the others. I think this is mostly because I was expecting it to be the concluding book of a series. It really wasn't. These three books can be treated almost individually, unlike the Arrows books or Last Herald-Mage books.
Bottom Line: Good for its action and suspense, but lacking in the pacing of its ending. I would really only recommend this to readers familiar with Valdemar.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2008 3:24 PM PDT


The White Gryphon (Mage Wars)
The White Gryphon (Mage Wars)
by Mercedes Lackey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
231 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than its predecessor!, February 5, 2003
It has been ten years since the magical Cataclysm that destroyed Urtho's Tower and the evil Adept Ma'ar. The Kaled'a'in Clan k'Leshya spent nearly a year traversing magic-warped lands to finally reach the shores of the sea where they would make their home. For nine years, under the leadership and guidance of the kestra'chern Amberdrake and the white gryphon Skandranon, they built a new and shining city: White Gryphon, in honor of Skandranon.
Just as life seems to be finally settling down for the Kaled'a'in, a ship appears, sailing up the coast straight towards White Gryphon. Aboard it are envoys of the rigid Haighlei Empire, sent to inform the Kaled'a'in that their precious city is situated on Haighlei territory. To avoid a confrontation, Amberdrake, Winterhart, Skandranon, and Zhaneel are sent to the Haighlei capital of Khimbata as ambassadors. Trouble quickly ensues as Haighlei courtiers opposed to the Kaled'a'in are found murdered. Will Amberdrake and Skandranon be able to clear their names and save their home from war?
"The White Gryphon" is the second book in Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon's Mage Wars Trilogy. I absolutely loved it! As in "The Black Gryphon," Dixon's voice and presence will be apparent to devoted Valdemar fans. It was a page-turner through and through, and the alternating perspectives only increased my desire to read on. It was one of those stories where you know the other half of the mystery, but the main characters don't and you feel like shouting out the missing pieces to them. Very intense and involving.
As always, the characters and descriptions were fantastic. I swear Amberdrake is the sweetest guy ever, and I love Skandranon's self-assurance. The fully fleshed out Haighlei culture was particularly interesting. It makes one wonder if Lackey and Dixon based it on a culture in our world.
I honestly have no serious complaints about this book. The pacing was infinitely better than "The Black Gryphon." The climax was more drawn out and much slower, with sufficient lower points, so that it didn't feel rushed. The only thing I'm still curious about are Hadanelith's motivations, but that is a very small flaw in an otherwise thrilling book.
Bottom Line: A taut, thrilling continuation to the Mage Wars Trilogy that Valdemar fans will devour. Enjoy! :)


The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars)
The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars)
by Mercedes Lackey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
236 used & new from $0.01

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read for Valdemar fans, January 26, 2003
Since the gathering of Ma'ar's evil forces drove away High King Leodhan, Urtho, the Mage of Silence, has been forced into becoming the leader of those opposed to Ma'ar. Among Urtho's subjects are the Kaled'a'in, including the kestra'chern Amberdrake, and the magnificent gryphons, most prominent of which is the Black Gryphon Skandranon.
As Ma'ar's power continues to grow, Urtho and his forces struggle to keep him from destroying all that is good in the world. Will Amberdrake and Skandranon be able to stop him before it is too late?
"The Black Gryphon" is the first book in Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon's Mage Wars Trilogy. It was an interesting read that I really enjoyed. Dixon's influence on the style of the writing will be quite evident to those who are familiar with Lackey's other novels.
What I liked most about this book were, as with all the other Valdemar books, its characters and their sensitivity and perceptiveness. Amberdrake was simply wonderful, and I loved his interactions with the gryphons and hertasi. Skandranon was a lot of fun to read about. I particularly liked the pep talks he gave himself and the sarcastic conversations he had with Amberdrake and other gryphons. Also, Winterhart's growth was very rewarding to watch.
The descriptions of the area surrounding Urtho's Tower were very effective. I felt like I could really see Healer's Hill and the gryphon landing area. I enjoyed reading about the territory that was to become the Dhorisha Plains. I can't wait to read the descriptions of the new surroundings in "White Gryphon" and "Silver Gryphon."
My one complaint about this book (and this is a common one I have throughout the Valdemar books) is that the climax comes too close to the end of the story. Lackey and Dixon effectively tie up all the loose ends, but everything somehow feels rushed. Given the length of the book (460 pages), ten pages or so of denouement seems very abrupt, but perhaps this is mainly because it is only the first book in a trilogy.
Bottom Line: A solid start to a very promising trilogy, but you'll probably appreciate it more if you read the Mage Winds and Mage Storms trilogies first


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