Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: Seductively Ever After Box Set

Seductively Ever After Box Set by Kim Carmichael

This fiction spotlight is of USA Today bestselling author Kim Carmichael’s box set: Seductively Every After. Kim’s books initially qualified for the Phiction Spotlight due to the first book in the series being directly inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, but after reading the others, I am convinced that all Phans would love the entire series.

Kim’s Seductively Ever After series consists of four books:

  • Facade (inspired by The Phantom of the Opera)
  • Fantasy (inspired by Cinderella)
  • Fascination (inspired by Beauty and the Beast)
  • Forever (inspired by The Prince and the Pauper)

The entire series centers around the members of the rock band, Spectre. Each book is the love story of a different band member. Basically, a tragic accident caused by defective pyrotechnics during a concert left all of the band members maimed or scarred in some form or fashion. Each one struggles to regain a sense of normalcy and ultimately finds his salvation is his respective heroine.

Facade

I remember reading Facade before. I loved it the first time I read it, but it’s been a couple of years, so I had forgotten much of what happened. I loved it just as much this time around (if not more so) than I did the first time.

Erik is our Phantom character. He was the lead singer of Spectre until the disaster left half his face disfigured. Consequently, he wears a half mask just like our beloved Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. He just so happened to buy a theater and set up living quarters in it.

Christine is, of course, our ingenue. She’s tragically homeless and an orphan to boot. She sings backup in a band that is composed of a guy who seems to be crushing on her a bit (the Raoul character) and a diva lead singer (the Carlotta character).

Their band breaks into Erik’s supposedly deserted theater to rehearse, and Christine ends up seeking shelter there. Captivated by her voice, Erik allows her to stay and becomes her anonymous mentor and protector.

Facade expertly brought The Phantom of the Opera into the modern age in a manner that I could believe. It held to the main theme of our beloved tale while modernizing certain elements to make them relevant to today’s world.

I liked how Erik had that dark, Phantom-y aura, and Christine was young and naive, yet she wasn’t stupid.

Fantasy

Fantasy is the charming tale of two lost souls who find solace together in the wooded area of a piece of land that both are unknowingly tied to together. In this reverse Cinderella story, Nash (who was once the guitarist of Spectre) falls for the heiress to a huge company, but insecure about his limp that was caused by the pyrotechnics disaster, he finds himself hesitant to reveal his true identity to his Petals (the nickname he dubbed his love the first time he saw her; it’s a long story – you’ll have to read it to find out *wink*).

Little does Nash know that Petals totally digs him too, even so much as to fantasize about Knight (what she calls him; again, long story – read to find out) day and night.

Their clandestine meetings in the woods ultimately culminate into passion that could change their lives irrevocably if they only have the courage to reveal their true selves to one another.

As much as I loved Facade, I really loved this book too. I loved the fairy tale-esque vibe to Knight and Petals’s story in this reverse Cinderella story brought into the modern age. Both trapped by something, they found freedom in each other even when they didn’t know each other’s names. Poignant and such a striking metaphor that really brought to light the different between knowing someone’s surface identity and knowing someone’s soul. Does a name really matter so much once you know the true being within?

Fascination

This third book in the Seductively Ever After series had to be one of my very faves. About Upton, the drummer of Spectre, this one expertly crafts us a modern Beauty and the Beast that we can totally fall in love with.

Upton was horribly burned in the disaster during the band’s last concert. Rather than wear a mask to cover his scars, though, Upton chooses to simply become a recluse, holing himself up in his mansion and shutting out the daylight. He throws himself into work and generally becomes a beast to everyone. He seems pretty taciturn and bitter – until a beauty shows up who might be able to thaw his frozen heart.

Alaine is our Belle, and she’s as beautiful as she is kind-hearted. To save her father’s floundering publishing business, she agrees to live for one year with the person who holds the deed to their property and write a biography of his life in exchange for all her father’s debts forgiven and the deed to their property, and that beast is none other than (yes, you guessed it) Upton.

Part of what I loved about Upton was that he was a great Beast character, but yet he was also a great Phantom character as well. He was kind of like a mixture of the brooding Phantom and stubborn Beast, and I loved his darkness, which only made it that much more interesting when Alaine attempted to bring him into the light.

Fantasy

Oh gosh. I want to tell y’all about Forever so bad, but I’m not going to write anything about it for fear of providing you with spoilers that will affect your reading of the previous three books. All I will say is that this book was inspired by Mark Twain’s beloved tale, The Prince and the Pauper, and that each book in this series got better and better and that after reading this book, you’ll probably have the insane urge to be a glorified fish sitter. (Trust me. It’ll all make sense when you read the book.)

I never thought I’d like one of the books that was inspired by a tale other than The Phantom of the Opera more than that one, but I have to admit that I liked each book a little more than the previous one in this series. Kim’s stories just got better and better as the series went along, and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite book among this series.

About the Author

Kim Carmichael is one of the most personable authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of connecting with. She’s real. She’s raw. She’s down to earth. She’s a USA Today bestselling author and without even having read all of her books, I would recommend any of them based on this series alone. I’m excited to see what else lies in store for Kim throughout her writing career and look forward to reading many more of her books.

To learn more about Kim or find out more about all the works she’s published, you can follow her on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub or Facebook. You can also explore Kim’s author site at www.kimcarmichaelauthor.com/

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Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: The Most Dangerous Dream: Leroux’s Phantom Reimagined

The Most Dangerous Dream by Kelsey Brickl is one of the best Phantom retellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading. “Leroux’s Phantom Reimagined” is a perfect description of it because that is exactly what it is.

Brickl’s book starts off in the Opera Populaire just as the original novel does, but instead of taking the exact same turns that the original novel does, The Most Dangerous Dream takes a few unexpected twists and spins – dare we say better twists and spins than the original? Not to dishonor the memory of Leroux, but I quite enjoyed this reimagined version of the classic tale.

The Story

Without giving too much away, I’ll say that this is one for the Erik/Christine lovers. If you’ve always wanted to see Erik get the girl, then this is the read for you. Erik does a couple of key things differently in this book that make it plausible to believe that Christine was able to return his affections. Raoul gets his shot, but pretty boy can’t hold a candle to her mysterious, darkly alluring Angel of Music.

Unfortunately, a chance encounter with Meg puts everything in jeopardy, causing Erik and Christine to flee the Paris Garnier, leaving behind their lives there to build a new one in…Argentina of all places. Don’t cry for me, Argentina… (I’m sorry. I always break into that song from Evita when I hear “Argentina.” LOL)

I’m not going to reveal any more of the plot at this point. I’ll just say that it’s an exhilarating read that will leave you needing a box of tissues handy at the end of it.

The Characters

Of course, we have Erik (The Phantom) and Christine. Meg, Raoul, Madame Giry and even the Daroga play their own little parts in Brickl’s reimagining. I love the liberties the author took with the characters. For instance, Christine is still innocent and naive, but she isn’t stupid. She can indeed have a backbone when she needs one. That was a nice change for this reimagining because Christine, bless her heart, I love her dearly, but I usually find myself wanting to scream at her, “Stand up for yourself every once in a while, will you?” I didn’t have to do this in Brickl’s book. Don’t misunderstand. Christine is still a kind, gentle soul, but she doesn’t let Erik walk all over her either.

Speaking of Erik…I love how Brickl really captured what I call “my” Erik. The way I imagine the Phantom is dark and dangerous to the world but not to Christine. He’s got a temper, and he’s a strong, dominant male. Too many authors want to turn Erik into a lovesick pup (“He’s the Phantom of the Opera, for God’s sake,” I always want to scream.), but Brickl doesn’t do that. She works with Erik’s flawed, broken character to illustrate his humanity in a way that leaves the reader understanding and even sympathizing with him.

Monsieur Lefevre gets a larger role in Brickl’s reimaging, which I also liked. I like it when authors use characters that previously didn’t receive much love and explore them more. There are also a few new characters introduced to the plot. I won’t spoil them for you. You’ll meet them soon enough. *wink*

The Verdict

Overall, this book is very well-written. Sometimes it’s hard to find Phantom books that use proper grammar, punctuation and so on, but Brickl is obviously a good writer. She weaves plenty of facts into her fiction. She also has some great symbolism and uses witty metaphors in her writing that make it that much more fun to read. What is the most dangerous dream? You’ll have to read her book to find out…

About the Author

From Amazon:

Kelsey Brickl is a wife, mother, language enthusiast, travel addict, and unabashed history nerd. She is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, where she studied history and received the Blecka-Zatko Award for Excellence in Senior Composition. She is also a graduate of the Keough-Naughton Institute at the University of Notre Dame, where she studied Irish Language and Literature and Irish Studies. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, son, and two cats.

From me:

Kelsey is one of the most down-to-earth authors you’ll ever have the pleasure of chatting with. She’s personable, friendly, and humble. I want to thank her for allowing me to do this Phiction Spotlight and wish her luck in all her future writing endeavors.

To learn more about Kelsey or her other books or to contact her, visit her author website: kelseybrickl.com/

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – The Phantom’s Hideout

We’ve all experienced the despair as Phans of not having enough people around us who want to talk all things Phantom 24/7. Nothing is more disheartening than when you make a witty Phantom reference and your “normal” friends look at you blankly. Sometimes we just need to be with some of our own kind – you know, the ones who get our love for The Phantom of the Opera. There’s a special place for Phans like us: THE PHANTOM’S HIDEOUT.

THE PHANTOM’S HIDEOUT is a group on Facebook that welcomes all Phantom Phans. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of the 2004 film or a Phan of the original novel or any other adaptation. All adaptations are welcome.

My friend, Lisa Gomez, created the group as a place for Phans to hang out and share pictures, videos, books and other content related to the tale. It’s also a great place to simply start up a random discussion, such as why you think a certain scene went the way it did or why certain characters are the way that they are.

I have learned about so many other adaptations, actors, actresses and much more from this group alone. While I’m not always as active as I’d like to be in it due to time constraints, it’s always a fun place to drop in on when I have a bit of free time and am feeling Phantomy.

Of course, there are plenty of other great groups dedicated to The Phantom of the Opera on Facebook. I just chose to highlight this one today since it’s my personal favorite, and I invite you to join us in our group if you enjoy all things Phantom.  We have such fun there, and I guarantee you will learn something you didn’t know at some point or another while hanging out in there.

What are some of your favorite Phantom Facebook groups?

*Always remember to read the rules and guidelines for participation in a group upon joining. Most groups at least demand that you respect other members’ opinions and not engage in any bullying or hate speech. Violation of a group’s terms can get you placed on probation or thrown out of the group altogether.*

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – Phantom Word Search

For today’s Phantom Phriday, I made us a little something fun to do: a word search. Well, if you’re a nerd like me, then word searches are fun. Lol. I’ve always loved doing them – ever since I was a little girl – so I thought it’d be fun to create us a Phantom of the Opera-inspired one.

Click on the image below, and then click your computer’s “Print” button to print it out.

Feel free to post pictures of your finished word search in the comments below. Happy searching!

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – Love Never Dies: Yay or Nay?

As any Phan knows, Love Never Dies is the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. While all Phans love the original Phantom, we seem to stand divided on thoughts about LND. There are those of us who love it and those of us who hate it.

Then there are those Phans like me who are kind of in the middle ground. Let me explain. While I find the storyline for LND totally ridiculous, I absolutely love the music (all except for that ridiculous Bathing Beauty. I mean, come on, guys. Can you really see the Phantom, a musical genius, dumbing down his art, his precious music, to write such a silly song? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Lol.)

Not to mention that PHANTASTIC set! I had the pleasure of seeing LND at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, also simply referred to by us TN natives as TPAC, in Nashville, and let me tell you. It was so amazing! The props were out of this world and looked really impressive up on stage. The performance was truly one of the best that I’d ever been to – despite my qualms with the storyline.

So I’m interested in how many of my blog followers are Phans of LND. Please cast you votes in the poll below.

Also, have you seen the show performed live? If so, please feel free to share your experiences below in the comments.

Have a PHANTASTIC Phriday!

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – The Phantom’s Lair Jewelry Collection by Saturdaychic

For today’s Phantom Phriday, I chose to spotlight one of my fave Phantom shops. It’s an Etsy shop where cartoonist Stephanie Piro (a.k.a. saturdaychic) showcases her love for The Phantom of the Opera by creating beautiful POTO-inspired jewelry.

Quality Craftsmanship

Every Phangirl needs a piece of Phantom jewelry to wear, and Stephanie’s creations are not only beautiful, but they are high-quality, handcrafted pieces that hold up. Nothing is more irritating to me than buying a piece of jewelry only to have all the charms fall off or the chain break. Stephanie’s jewelry doesn’t do that. She makes it all with quality materials, and her creations are unique.

Unique Pieces

When you get a piece of jewelry from Stephanie, oftentimes it’s an original creation with no others like it out there. On occasion, she will make more than one of a popular piece, and you can solicit commissions from her. A word of advice, though: there’s only one Stephanie, so if you want to commission a piece as a gift for Christmas or an upcoming holiday, put your order in early so that she has time to get them made and shipped out to you by the day you want them.

I have several pieces from Stephanie. The first one I got by winning a Valentine’s Day contest she ran. Stephanie’s shop is fun in that she occasionally does giveaways and hosts interactive activities to get her customers involved. I loved the first piece so much that I bought one, and then I was gifted some by friends. Below are a few pics of some of the pieces I have from Stephanie’s collection. I love the way she packages them, by the way. They always come in these pretty little bags and boxes tied with POTO-themed ribbons. Stephanie’s business card is always super cute too.

Check out Stephanie’s Etsy shop here:

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While I’m featuring the Phantom aspect of her shop, she also has other stuff too sometimes. If you’re interested in something for another fandom or anything, just shoot Stephanie a message, and I’m sure she’d be happy to work with you.

Here’s Stephanie’s blog if you want to follow her for news and updates on any contests and giveaways:

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Have you bought any jewelry from Stephanie’s Etsy shop? If so, please share your experiences and/or pics below.

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – Phantom Paper Dolls

There are so many amazing Phantom of the Opera-inspired dolls on the market. Some of them are Barbie-type dolls while others are made from yarn and cloth. Unfortunately, these dolls can be quite pricey due to their rarity. For those Phans who want some Phantom dolls without all the expense, there are Paper Dolls by Cory.

These ingenious dolls are made of paper, as their name implies. Cory Jensen designs them and offers them as free printouts on her Facebook page. Simply click on the link above to be directed to the Phantom dolls and costumes. All you have to do is click on the images, print them and then cut out the dolls and costumes. They’re quite cute!

But Cory makes more than just Phantom dolls. If you love Beauty and the Beast or countless other musicals and Disney movies, she’s designed dolls and costumes for them too, and she creates posters and art images in general.

You can see more of Cory’s Art on her Tumblr page and on her DeviantArt.

Let us know if you print any of these cute paper dolls! Share a picture!