Sunday, 20 March 2016

ARC Review - Swann's Way (Marcel Proust)

Hello everyone! Today I have a lovely review of the non-YA kind that I hope you all like. I received a copy from the lovely Hayley Steed and Gallic Books, and though I'm a little late in posting I absolutely adored it. My opinion and rating are not affected. Enjoy!


Proust's oceanic novel In Search of Lost Time looms over twentieth-century literature as one of the greatest, yet most endlessly challenging, literary experiences. Now, in what renowned translator Arthur Goldhammer says might be 'likened to a piano reduction of an orchestral score, the French illustrator Stéphane Heuet re-presents Proust in graphic form for anyone who has always dreamed of reading him but was put off by the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. This graphic adaptation reveals the fundamental architecture of Proust's work while displaying a remarkable fidelity to his language as well as the novel's themes of time, art, and the elusiveness of memory.

Release Date: 1st February 2016
Publisher: Gallic Books

Swann's Way is a wondrous journey through the mind of Marcel Proust, and reading it feels a little akin to the boat journey in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story is encapsulating, with Proust quite literally forging a story for the senses. You can almost smell, taste, see, touch, and hear as you read, and it's not at all lost in translation. The graphic novel only serves to enhance the story with full colour depictions that draw you in further. Marketed as 'Proust for the people' it is quite literally that. Not simply a new edition or a lovely collector's item, Swann's Way is a marvellous introduction to anyone who has been interested in the works but discouraged by their volume.

The artwork is stunning, capturing not only the very essence of Proust's work but of Marcel Proust himself; of madeline cake dipped in tea. It was an absolute joy to read, a pleasure for the eyes, and I will certainly be keeping my eye out for the next volume. I am thoroughly enthralled.

One of the things I loved most about the book however was the 'extras' that made it even more special and beautiful. Upon opening you are immediately presented with the most amazing map, and further the book does not end when the story does. We are presented with more full colour depictions in the forms of character portraits (also a key tool in recognising the characters), the narrator's family tree, and Proust's own family tree. The presentation of a full glossary meanwhile not only answers any queries but further expands the book's demographic, truly promoting it as 'Proust for the people'.

A wondrous read and a magnificent addition to any shelf, I highly recommend it and award a much deserved 5 stars! If you weren't convinced before, I hope you are now.

Thanks for reading and I truly hope you enjoyed my review. Do feel free to comment below, or message me on Twitter!

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Blog Tour: Defender of the Realm - Review

Hello everyone! Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the book tour for a wonderful MG fantasy entitled Defender of The Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler. This is the book I would have loved to read as a kid. I loved The Princess Diaries, but I also loved superheroes, and this book was a fantastic amalgamation of the two. I received a copy of the book from Scholastic for the blog tour, but this in no way affects my opinion and the following review:


Super-villains. Hungry monsters. One kid to stop them all. Meet King Alfie: fourteen-year-old British monarch and Defender of the Realm. Alfie never expected to become king so young. He definitely didn’t expect to become a legendary superhero: the Defender. Which means fighting an ancient secret battle against mega-villains and evil monsters. All while grappling with adoring crowds, paparazzi and minders. Now the terrible Black Dragon is rising. Only Alfie can stop him. Think being a king is just about wearing a crown? Wrong.

Information about the Book
Title: Defender of the Realm (Defender of the Realm #1)
Authors: Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic UK

Format: Paperback and E-book

I think what I loved most about Defender of the Realm was the setting. Rather than taking place in a created-world, we were given a story that takes place now, in our time and with all our modern technology. That's not to say that I don't love created-worlds (Who doesn't love a good map?!) but it was both interesting and comical to see the tech-whizz Hayley against good natured but stuffy LC (Lord Chamberlain) and The Tower. It's also always great to read a fantasy that you can relate to; one that could easily be taking place outside your window. What I loved the most however was how The Crown Jewels were The Defender's weaponry - how the fantasy elements were based in reality and history - and most of all Wyvern, The Defender's spectral horse.

The whole story was a joy to read; fun, comical and packed with action.

The characters were well-written and enjoyable to follow through the story. I highly enjoyed Alfie's arc, watching him go through the motions of being a teen and grieving whilst also dealing with becoming both King and Defender. It was great to see him grow and learn, and I'm interested to see where the character is come book two. Hayley was fabulous with her stubborn, 'take no prisoners' attitude, especially in her reaction to the fantasy elements, and it's always great to read about a strong, female POC.

I warn you though, the last few pages will lure you into a sense of false security. There is a cliffhanger, and it made my jaw drop. I may be 23 but I am already anxiously awaiting the sequel!

Overall I give Defender of the Realm a well deserved 5 stars! Regardless of age it's a book every fantasy lover should read!

Thanks for coming by on my stop and I hope you enjoyed the review! Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Blog Tour

Monday 29th February

Tuesday 1st March

Wednesday 2nd March

Thursday 3rd March

Friday 4th March

Saturday 5th March

Sunday 6th March

The Book

Author Information

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are Emmy and BAFTA-nominated screenwriters best known for writing popular TV shows such as Danger Mouse and Thunderbirds Are Go! 

Mark’s Twitter:
Nick’s Twitter: