Why did we read this book: We are ashamed to say that this is our very first Eva Ibbotson book!
After the russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young russian countess, has no choice but to flee to england. Thea: This was my introduction to Eva Ibbotson, and if the rest of her books are anywhere near as lovely as Countess, then I foresee a huge dent in my wallet in the near future. Ana:Thea read Countess first and emailed me to say that the book was “like Lisa Kleypas for teens”. When the handsome Earl of Rochester returns home from his tour during the war, recovered fully from his injuries, he can’t help but take notice of the strange new Russian maid that has captured the hearts of everyone in his household. The plotting is simple – a displaced heroine with a heart of gold strikes out to make it on her own, and finds her true love in the process.
I am a fan of historical romances and it was welcoming to read one that is NOT a Regency or set in Victorian times and the early 20th century proves to be an incredibly rich period to set a book in. An aside: I live in England, as I was reading Countess, I mentioned it to one of my co-workers. The other true standout characters in my opinion, were the Honorable Ollie and the evil Muriel. Ana: For all the vividness of the setting and the fabulous writing, the greatest strength of Countess lies in its cast of wonderful characters.
As Thea said, Anna, the protagonist, could have been an unbearably annoying Mary Sue character but she just isn’t and for me, this is due to the way Eva Ibbotson infuses her character with a sense of humour and for the absence of the Martyr Complex ever present in stories like that. Plus, another aspect that seemed unique to me, is how Anna doesn’t “save” or disrupt the lives of the other characters creating a new reality in which she is the “saviour” like many fairytales – instead she becomes a part of an already established routine.
Thea: I loved the part where Anna takes Ollie on a trip around London to raise her young spirits.
The scene continues to tell of Anna’s ancestors and relatives, of customs and food and drink and dancing. Anna dimpled, but her eyes were sad, for Niannka’s desertion had hurt more than anything in the dark days of the revolution. ChristineAugust 17, 2009 at 9:36 amYou two are literally sending me to the poor house with YA Appreciation Month. LiAugust 17, 2009 at 12:47 pmThanks for a great review that perfectly captures why I *love* this book.
MemoryAugust 20, 2009 at 8:52 pmI absolutely love this book, and your wonderful review made me want to read it again poste haste! 1 : a book review blog specializing in speculative fiction and popgeekery for all ages since 2008. The Book Smugglers purchase books for review on this site, but also receive free review copies from authors, publishers, and other third parties. We have of course heard wonderful things about this author and her young adult work, but it took until our Young Adult Appreciation Month to finally pick up one of her novels – and we decided on the Cinderella retelling, A Countess Below Stairs. This reimagining of Cinderella with a swingin’ twenties-ish, Russian twist was absolutely delightful.
One cannot read A Countess Below Stairs without a huge silly smile plastered on one’s face, and I certainly was no exception.
Anna’s story is whimsical and happy but there are enough glimpses of life in England and Russia after the First World War that is definitely real and painful for the changes in the lifestyle and the loss of lives in both countries. Eva Ibbotson manages to bring an era to life by showing the early stages of new technologies like the telephone or cars. As it just so happens, her roommate is of Russian descent and his grandparents, escaped from Russia in the very same year that Anna’s family did in the book, in the very same manner and route!
It doesn’t take a lot of the pages in the novel, it is a rather subtle romance with a few encounters here and there but oh boy, when Rupert and Anna are together it is ever so romantic in a very gentle manner.
Rupert is dramatic and funny in his own way, but he’s not really the star of this book. Ollie, that is Olive Jane Byrne, is the youngest child of the neighboring Viscount Byrne, good friends of Rupert’s. The beautiful, full-figured, rich Muriel Hardwicke is as wicked as they come, but in a very sneaky, subversive way. Every single one of them was a great pleasure to read about – the Downstairs characters and the Upstairs characters, from the footman to the Dowager , all of them had at least one line, one paragraph in which to shine. Anna never once feels like she needs to endure the suffering because there is no suffering. Yes, she adds some flavour to it and makes a mark, but it not as though everybody in that household were frozen in time or unhappy and Anna came to change them all. The title alone made me giggle every time she made an appearance and she is the protagonist of some of the most emotional scenes in the book. Very rarely do I get this overwhelming need to jump inside a book and strangle a fictional character but Muriel is definitely one of them. It might be a bit simplistic, a bit predictable, but it is written with such wit and sparkle that I cannot help but love it.
I have never read anything by Ibbotson, but now all I want is go to the bookstore and grab this book! Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to rupert, the handsome earl of westerholme.
YES, everything was so quaintly predictable, the characters all unquestionably good or unflinchingly evil – but sometimes a little romantic escape is exactly what you need.
Some of my favorite scenes in this book were with Anna and her family members, dancing, singing, eating and drinking, and sharing tales of their beloved homeland. I absolutely loved how the author incorporated these elements in a story that is otherwise so light and funny.
All they managed to bring with them were a couple of heirlooms: a silver bowl and a silver jug. Ollie’s mother died in giving birth to her, and ever since, Ollie has struggled with illness and physical challenges. Her tactics in Countess to ensure she gets the wedding of her dreams are works of manipulative genius and almost all rooted in her devotion to the Eugenics doctrine of her beloved Dr. Yes, most of them were Good and Honourable but I did not care one iota about the lack of shades of grey because they were all full of heart and warmth.
By accepting her fate and her new circumstances, Anna decides to make the best of it and the aforementioned humour (like, how she is adamant about following the advice of The Domestic Servant’s Compendium by Selina Strickland), balances what could have been a boring character.
Likewise, Proom the Butler has a major role to play as do Rupert’s cousins – the way they are woven in the story, at first appearing randomly until the moment where they have to play their part in the hilarious, ludicrous climax of the story. Ibbotson’s characters are always so wacky and interesting, her writing is superb, and the historical setting is fantastic.
By night, she watches an abundance of horror movies, stays up too late, and voraciously devours ALL THE SFF.
Our award-winning, festival loving horror short MASSACRE AT FEMUR CREEK is now available for purchase on DVD for a great low price. And if you’re in the mood for a frothy, sweet romance, then this is the book you need to read. It was impossible to put this book down once I started, and I truly cannot believe that I hadn’t picked up one of Ms.
She told me how they struggled with poverty but never even considered selling the pieces – and they now adorn his parent’s house. Even though Anna by all accounts should be a sickeningly sweet Mary Sue, even my jaded eye could not help but fall in love with this passionate young woman!
When she was born premature and her health in dire straits, she surpassed all expectations, pulling through and growing into a determined young girl. There is also a very complicated relationship between Rupert’s best friend Tom and a Jewish girl Susie, and that secondary romance is as beautiful and aw-worthy and the primary one between Rupert and Anna.
All of her actions are imbued with a sense of righteousness and she is virtually blind to all the pain she causes around her.


The Countess Grazinsky gathered up shawls, leaking packets of tea and lorgnettes, and when Pinny was satisfied that the little girl was properly rested they set off for the Russian Club. But considering it's an homage to 80's slasher movies, we are proud to announce the film will also be getting a release on VHS format, which is the perfect way to commemorate our little film.
As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling.
First, her father passes away on the frontlines of battle in the war; and then shortly after, her family is forced to flee Russia or face a terrible fate of imprisonment or death at the hands of the rising Bolsheviks. That’s to say, Muriel is of the unflinching belief that the weak or infirm should be rooted out, such that the beautiful, hale and healthy procreate for the good of humanity.
This is what makes her even more scary and abhorrent; the fact that she doesn’t believe that she is inflicting anything other than order for the good of humanity.
This is a quote from when Rupert finds out that Anna is a Countess and that she was so rich as to play with famous jewellery, like the Infamous Crown of Kazan, which she once let her brother Petya play with. The Grazinskys leave their family fortune of jewels in the hands of a trusted servant, but are brutally betrayed when the housemaid seemingly disappears with the Grazinsky treasure in tow. Ollie is a true delight – at the ripe age of 10 in Countess, she is a wise young thing, but incredibly endearing in her hopes and dreams, and her budding friendship with Anna.
Muriel is an ugly character especially when compared to all others and completely, totally hated her. Anna and her mother are forced to rely on the hospitality of Anna’s former governess, the similarly doting and understanding Mrs. Unwilling to simply accept Pinny’s ample generosity, Anna takes a temporary job as a maidservant in the country estate of the mysterious Earl of Rochester. We are incredibly proud of the film and are hoping it will match (if not surpass) the success of its predecessor, the mutiple-award winning ARCHON DEFENDER. Though she knows not a thing about housekeeping or the machinations of English servants, Anna is set on something with herself, and armed with the (ridiculously dated) encyclopedic tome, Selina Strickland’s Domestic Compendium, she feels that her determination and spirit can handle anything. The official DVD artwork is below, along with some of the links where you can either rent or purchase the film. It's been a while but we've returned with plenty of activity over the last few months and a big apology to our fans for our tardiness in updating the website since the summer. This will change in the coming months as we have a few new projects in release and upcoming projects that will surely generate much buzz as we aim to unleash them onto the unsuspecting world. Producer Morgan Muscat supplied us with this cool picture of his trek through Cinema 1 at Burlington Mall and the discovery of ARCHON sitting within some pretty good company. The first official trailer from our latest short film, MASSACRE AT FEMUR CREEK, has been unveiled online via writer-director Kyle Hytonen's You Tube channel.
We are excited to be collaborating with award-winning filmmaker Kyle Hytonen and his A Henry Krinkle Production company on this fun little short film.
Enjoy the picture below of actor John Migloire in character as The Shape and keep checking back for more updates on the film's completion and release date.
Filming has commenced in Hamilton, Ontario and Burlington, Ontario under the direction of Hytonen and starring John Migliore and Heather Dicke.
Recently, the film launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise $1100 and wound up (to date) collecting a surprising $2414. Check out the teaser poster below and visit the Indiegogo campaign for more info about the film. As we continue to develop short and feature films, as well as promote our new demo reel feature, we are hard at work promoting local artists and community events.
Such is the case with the upcoming June 8th Car-Free street festival happening on Palladium Way in Alton Village. We are proud to be a part of this amazing community event and are happy to finally unveil our freshly completed new video to help raise awareness of said event. We were approached a few weeks back to create this video by local artists and have done so using footage from last year's event. Enjoy the world exclusive premiere of the promotional video by visiting this link or check it out via our WELCOME page. We are excited to formally announce thatA Moonlit Road Entertainment has the privilege of being among the many talented artists and vendors at the Ward 6, North Burlington festival. The event will be held on Palladium Way, between Walkera€™s and Appleby Lines, in Alton Village. Please feel free to visit the Ward 6 Car-Free Street Festival page on Facebook for more information about the event.
Our tiny horror-film noir short film THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU recently added another festival date to its successful roster, this time for the 2014 edition of the Sudden Impulse Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
We are excited to promote our award-winning title yet again and hope that people turn out to support great independent films such as this one. The screening happens on Saturday May 10th at the Big Picture Cinema on Gerard Street East at 8:30pm. Not only are we focused on inspired filmmaking and photography opportunities, we are how branching out into offering services for Demo Reels. We understand just how important a demo reel is to emerging and talented filmmakers and actors, so we are offering top-notch, professional service along with affordable prices to help showcase what you have to offer the world.
If you are looking to have us create your demo reel or are merely wanting to browse around, we invite you to check out our newly added DEMO REELS page where you can look into our rates and what we can offer you.
With ARCHON DEFENDER currently in distribution around the world, distirbution plans ramping up for ORIGIN: A CALL TO MINDS and production underway onA COLD DARK MIRRORA along with a slew of short film projects in development, we trust that 2014 will be our busiest year yet.
And we hope for your continued support as we grow and expand into different areas, which will be announced soon. From all of us at Moonlit Road Entertainment, we welcome 2014 and wish you all a very Happy New Year.
Also, Morgan was featured in the 2013 edition of the Burlington community guide, which he also spoke about his humbling beginnings as a student filmmaker and to where he is today. The article and photo are available only in print, but a photograph has been made available below.
The film gets an exclusive digital engagement with Google Play starting tomorrow, October 1, 2013. Since 2008, the film has been turning heads and it has been nominated and has won several awards for is achievement in special effects and production design. Congratulations to the directors and cast who combined to make a special type of film that continues to wow audiences.
Dates and specifics will be released as soon as they are available.A September 25, 2013 - Hamilton Film Festival selects ARCHON DEFENDER and ORIGINA The city of Hamilton appears to have taken a liking to Moonlit Road Entertainment productions. Both films will screen as a double bill during the festival, which runs from November 4th to the 10th at the Staircase Theatre (27 Dundurn St. While ARCHON has had a fairly successful festival run over the years leading up to its upcoming DVD release, ORIGIN: A CALL TO MINDS will be making its exclusive world premiere during the festival. Just yesterday, the film screened at the 2013 Hamilton Music and Film Festival at the Factory Media Centre (227 James Street North in Hamilton). Earlier in the month (on September 13th), the film was selected to screen at the 2013 Supercrawl event held in Hamilton. Expect more festival announcements in the next little while.A A August 28, 2013 - Pre-order ARCHON DEFENDER on DVD now at Amazon!!! Here is your exclusive first look at a pair of colourful teaser posters for our upcoming animated feature film COLD DARK MIRROR, currently in production under the direction of David Krupicz.The film is expected to continue production throughout 2013 and the early part of 2014, with a release expected for later next year. 2013 - THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU is an Official Selection at HMFF 2013!More great news for our horror film noir hybrid THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU. The award-winning short has become an Official Selection at the 2013 Hamilton Music and Film Festival, taking place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on September 22nd. This will mark the third time that the film has screened in Hamilton as part of the film festival circuit, following the 2012 edition of the Hamilton Film Festival as well as earlier this year as part of the Little Nightmares Canadian Horror Shorts Festival.
We announced earlier this year that ARCHON DEFENDER, our first animated feature film, is scheduled to premiere on DVD and VOD during the fourth quarter of 2013.


Today comes word that the film will indeed premiere this fall and in the United States on October 22nd.A Furthermore, we are excited to bring you the exclusive world premiere of the DVD cover art for the film, to be distributed by Ytinifni Films. Morgan was one of eleven people nominated, which ranged from enviromental, community, heritage as well as senior, junior and citizen of the year.
This marks Morgan's second award win for his contributions to the community as a filmmaker, following his 2010 MARTY Award win for Emerging Media Arts.
Below is a photograph of the Burlington's Best Award and Certificate presented to Morgan Muscat last week as well as the Burlington Post photograph from the event, printed in Wednesday May 15th's edition.A May 16, 2013 - More THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU and SEVERANCE Movie Reviews!!!The reviews continue to trickle in for Moonlit Road Entertainment productions.
The first is a positively glowing one from Bleeding Dead Film Reviews for THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU, which once again praises the performances of stars Robert Nolan and Sandra da Costa, as well as the production design and direction.
Andrews will be among the guests lined up to heavily promote some top notch Canadian content. The festival takes place between May 31st and June 2nd at the Best Western Hotel (173 - Sunrise Highway, Rockville Centre, NY 11570). April 19, 2013 - Morgan Muscat featured in Mississauga magazine MISSISSAUGA ARTSThe promotion continues for busy producer-writer Morgan Muscat, who is now featured in the Spring edition of MISSISSAUGA ARTS, a magazine published quarterly that recognizes talents who have contributed to the arts in Mississauga. Morgan is featured on Page 4 as part of the 2013 MARTY Award nominees and again on Page 15, which is the press release about his involvement in the upcoming June 27th Media Arts Mash Up. The cover page for MISSISSAUGA ARTS is below, pick up your copy at the Mississauga Arts Council office.April 17, 2013 - THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU movie review!A positive, spoiler-free review of THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU from Horror Movie Diary has made it online and it rocks. The reviewer praises actor Robert Nolan's performances as Devil, as well as goes on to say that the film itself is "hellishly great" and supported by a great cast. The ever busy producer will be on hand discussing his past films as well as current productions including the soon-to-be-released ORIGIN: A CALL TO MINDS and the currently in development COLD DARK MIRROR.
Additionally, the filmmaker will be screening a never-before-seen 10 minute clip from ORIGIN as well as discuss the making of the film. The event will be held at the Art Gallery of Mississauga (300 City Centre Drive) and will begin at 7:00pm. Just today, Mike Haberfelner over at the website Search My Trash recently conducted two interviews, one with CDM producer Morgan Muscat and the other with David Krupicz himself about the making of the film.
Click below to check out the interviews where both filmmakers talk about CDM, as well as other upcoming projects from Moonlit Road Entertainment and Original Sine Productions. Additionally, an article conducted by Mississauga journalist Louise Peacock for the Film Annex website made it online today. That article, entitled "Glimpse in the Mirror", features an on-set journal and behind-the-scenes photos of the cast and crew in action.
Click on the respective links below to check out the interviews.A Morgan Muscat "Cold Dark Mirror" Interview (Search My Trash - Mike Haberfelner) David T. Today we are proud to report that Morgan has once again been nominated, this time for a 2013 Burlington's Best award nomination, which honours citizen in Burlington who have contributed to the arts within the city. Morgan is proud to call Burlington is new home town and is honoured that he and his work has been recognized by the community collectively. Today we are proud to announce the cast for our upcoming sci-fi animated epic COLD DARK MIRROR, which is being produced by Morgan Muscat and will once again be directed by David T. The cast includes Sandra da Costa (Sick), Caleigh Le Grand (Inspiration), Daniel Wyse (Origin: A Call to Minds), Morgan Muscat (Archon Defender), Paul Nicholls (A Cry in the Dark), Ryan Barrett (Neverlost), Astrida Auza (Sick), Christopher Lee Grant (Dead Genesis), Neil Green (Black Eve) and Laura Collu (Severance). COLD DARK MIRROR follows young Witch-Hunter Lydia (Sandra DaCosta), who stumbles upon the dark secret of the Unseen World; a shadow world of dreams and nightmares which lies just beyond the mirror's edge. A dark and ancient power, the Time Shadow (Neil Green), seeks entry into the corporeal world, a power some on the Alchemic Council are in league with, and whose existence they seek to keep secret above all else. Together with her Cat Familiar Callista (Caleigh La Grand), Lydia must face the Shadow Council, and avenge the death of her mentor, the Maegis Acheroni»?.A A In addition to the casting announcement, we are also today releasing the first couple of production stills from COLD DARK MIRROR.
New Moonlit Road business cards!A Earlier this year we reported that ARCHON DEFENDER would be getting a DVD and VOD release later this year. In addition to the Facebook group released a few months ago, you can now follow ARCHON DEFENDER on Twitter for all the most up-to-date information surrounding the film. Simply click on the links above to visit the respective pages.A In other news, we are proud to report that for the first time in five years we have new business cards that are hot off the presses and about ready for distribution to the masses. Our multiple award-winning short film is now an Official Selection at the 3rd Macabre Faire Film Festival in Long Island, New York, honouring films within the genres of Horror, Thrillers, Suspense and Sci-Fi. While there are no concrete showtimes or dates as of yet, please feel free to visit the festival's Facebook page, which will make a more formal announcement closer to the festival date this summer. As we keep you in anticipation with our casting, we are proud to present the first official production still from the film. We now have a Facebook group were you will be able to keep up to date on the developments of our films as they move through production. Please note that press releases and latest news will appear on here first, and then make their way onto our new Facebook group. Keep it here, there's lots happening.A March 6, 2013 - Morgan Muscat 2013 MARTY Award nomination and interviews Having stepped back to focus on his family last year, Moonlit Road Entertainment founder Morgan Muscat is gearing up for what is looking like a very busy year ahead. The talented writer-producer is releasing the animated feature ORIGIN: A CALL TO MINDS as well as producing a new animated film (COLD DARK MIRROR), which starts production this month.
Amidst all that, Morgan is seeking funding for his long awaited Stephen King adaptation SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN as well as developing some other short film projects. In the meantime, we would like to congratulate Morgan and his fourth MARTY award nomination since 2009, this one for Established Media Arts for the 2013 awards ceremony. More information about the MARTYs can be found by visiting the Mississauga Arts Council link. We would also like to congratulate SEVERANCE crew members David O'Hearn and Alvin Campana for their MARTY nominations also; David is nominated for Established Performing Arts while Alvin is in the running for Established Media Arts. In the interview, he speaks about his early career as a filmmaker to some of his recent producing projects, specifically SEVERANCE and THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU. The episode aired on Rogers TV at the end of February.A February 25, 2013 - THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU gets another Hamilton screening!!!We are proud to report that THE DEVIL WALKS AMONG YOU will once again be gracing screens in Hamilton, as it is an Official Selection at the 2013 Little Nightmares Canadian Horror Shorts Festival. COLD DARK MIRROR is slated to go into production in the next few weeks and is tentatively set for release in late 2014. A dark and ancient power, the Time Shadow, seeks entry into the corporeal world, a power some on the Alchemic Council are in league with, and whose existence they seek to keep secret above all else. Together with her Cat Familiar Callista, Lydia must face the Shadow Council, and avenge the death of her mentor, the Maegis Acheron.i»?January 27, 2013 - ARCHON DEFENDER signed to US Distribution dealBig news to start the new year off.
ARCHON DEFENDER, our 2009 multiple award-winning animated feature film (written and directed by David T. Krupicz and produced by Morgan Muscat) has been signed to a US distribution deal with Ytinifni Pictures. The deal will provide North American DVD and US Video on Demand (VOD) distribution in late 2013.
While an official date has yet to be announced, expect the film to be released sometime in the fourth quarter.
The film follows the path of a young woman, Colette, as she seeks her way through adversity to redemption, as the world she once knew is torn apart by war and tyranny.
The first official trailer from our latest short film, MASSACRE AT FEMUR CREEK, has been unveiled online via writer-director Kyle Hytonen's You Tube channel. Enjoy the picture below of actor John Migloire in character as The Shape and keep checking back for more updates on the film's completion and release date.
We were approached a few weeks back to create this video by local artists and have done so using footage from last year's event.



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