Sunday, 19 November 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Week Eight - 5 Favourite Types of Decoration!

Hey guys! This week for Countdown to Christmas I still don't have a review (I'm sorry! I've barely had time to read at all this week! *SAD FACE*) so instead, as I went decoration shopping this morning, I'm going to share with you my five favourite types of decorations! Yay! Enjoy!


If you saw my post on Twitter this morning, picture above, you'll have seen how much I love tinsel. Well, the picture's right there, you can see how happy I look. Basically I adore tinsel. I'm not 100% sure why, if I'm honest, it's just always been a love of mine when it comes to Christmas. Maybe it's because it's so fun, or because it's so colourful, I'm not sure. I just love it. So yeah, TINSEL! :D

2) Cute things!

I'm also a sucker for cute things. Is it relevant? Is it necessary? Does it even have anything to do with Christmas? Those things matter little. If it's cute and it will either go on my tree or stand somewhere and look pretty, or if it is meant to be cuddled, I will basically buy it. No lie. Cute things are my weakness. See above - New Bents bear.

3) Lights!

I absolutely adore lights at Christmas. Outside lights! Tree lights! LED lights on my bookcase! Lights around my books! LIGHTS EVERYWHERE! They're just pretty, especially when multi coloured or outside in the dark.

4) Santas

Anything depicting Santa is also my jam. We have two fairly large Santas that sit in our living room each year and I love them. We have a Santa on our tree aptly named Gandalf (Blue and White with a lamp-post - I know Dumbledore probably would have been better but yeah, he's Gandalf the Blue). Santa Claus is just ace!

5) The Tree! Trees everywhere!
Paperchase 1ft tree! :D
The best thing about Christmas decorating is of course the tree. But I'll take extra trees too. I cannot wait to get our real tree once more, but in the meantime I've ordered the above from Paperchase to sit in my room. It's only 1 foot, but come on! IT'S MULTICOLOURED!

Basically I love Christmas and I love decorating!

As always, feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

5 Weeks To Go!

Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs - The Type of Diverse Books I Want to Read More Of!

Hey guys! Once again life has been super busy so I've had barely any time to read once again. Therefore this week rather than a review or a book to spotlight, I'm actually asking for your own recommendations! I have a fair few diverse books on my TBR once I get chance to read them, but I'm always on the lookout for more. So here I'm going to list a few types of diverse books that I'd love to read, and if you have a rec (or 10 haha!) feel free to share in the comments below!

1) Gender NB books, where character(s) come to terms with their identity/find themselves.

2) Gender NB books, with cute romance!

3) Bi-romantic books, with emphasis on Bi-romanticism, so perhaps a love triangle between the MC and two love interests of differing genders/gender identities.

4) Genderfluid books, again with cute romance!

5) Coming Out books.

6) OwnVoices books! - Support! Support! Support!

7) WLW books!

8) MLM books!

9) Asexuality books.

10) More Queer books in general!

Bonus if they're set in the Victorian era or revolutionary France, because that's my jam right now ;)

As always, feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Saturday Series: Love, Hate or Both? - Incorrect Assumptions About Musical Theatre

Hey guys! Today for 'Love, Hate or Both?' I'm going to be talking about something a little different but something that's equally close to my heart, and that is the common incorrect assumptions or misconceptions people have about Musical Theatre (MT hereafter). Specifically I'm going to be talking about under appreciated understudies and swings, and under appreciated talent in MT in general. I do hope you enjoy it.

Okay so, the two parts of this topic have come up because of a few posts I've seen on Twitter recently. Firstly, the incorrect assumptions about understudies and swings. If you aren't aware there's a Twitter account called @WestEndCovers who do a wonderful job each and every day of letting us MT lovers know which understudies and swings are on for all the West End shows as well as those touring the UK. They have no insider info, they simply spread the information theatre goers give them. If no-one tells them any covers, they don't know and we don't get. It's a job they do without want for recognition (though they have won a well deserved award!), for us, but some of the responses they have gotten when reporting covers has been more than a little undeserved, and harsh towards the wonderful understudies and swings themselves.

Now the amazing @TheatreReview87 on Twitter has written a post about the thankless role of the understudies here, so I won't tread too much on what they have already wrote. What I will say is that I have had my fair share of disappointment in arriving at the theatre to find a principal is not on that day - it's to be expected - but we should all still open our minds to whichever talented actor/actress is on instead; I have, was pleasantly enamoured, and have since become a big fan of them. It's the very least we can do for these artists who have trained and honed their talent for years. After all, you could have 100 people who can all play the same part equally as well, but only one can be chosen, so why should we automatically assume they are better? Roles in the theatre change yearly also, casts come and go, and within that understudies can be promoted to principal, so why is it assumed they were worse when an understudy than when they are a principal? It makes no sense to me and since a lovely friend on Twitter has been educating me about the understudies and swings' roles, specifically in regards to Les Miserables, I've actually now been going to the theatre to try and catch the understudies and swings rather than the principal!

Furthermore if you actually look at it from a workload point of view, the swings have to know more of the show than the understudies, and the understudies (who play ensemble as well as being understudy to a principal) two parts minimum, while the principals only need to know one, standardly speaking of course. So why, pray tell, is it assumed the principals are more talented simply because they are on for the same part more often?

I think, beneath everything, the point is that we shouldn't judge anyone of any measurable talent, simply because of their title in the MT industry at any one point, before we've even seen them perform. Some of the comments I have seen are simply uncalled for.

The second part to this topic is to do with a certain Soap Actor who publicly stated that 'you don't need to be a good actor to be in a musical'. I won't name names, I'm sure he's gotten enough flack already, specifically from the MT community, but this statement really riled me up.

MT actors go through a minimum of 3 years training before they enter the industry proper. Very few become principals straight away. Most work their way up from swings, to understudies, to principal. It takes years of work. They hone and they sweat and they craft every little moment that they put on that stage. That's just speaking candidly and generically. As said above, the swings and understudies are tireless workers, immensely talented, regardless of whether they make principal. Every single person in the industry is talented beyond measure. To make such a statement is not only blatantly untrue, but immensely hurtful to those who put so much of themselves into every performance.

I'm even going to speak really bluntly here because some comments mentioned that MT School is treated as lesser than Drama or Shakespeare. Musicals run for years in a lot of cases, casts work at least one year if not longer. They have to keep the same material fresh for 8 shows a week, 52 weeks a year, on average. What other medium asks that of its actors/actresses? What other medium is so tirelessly unwavering each and every night? I think I rest my case.

I can only hope that the true heroes of MT, these actors and actresses who, as I said, give so much of themselves to each performance, do not take such callous, unthoughtful words to heart. We love them. We love the theatre. We love MT. That, ladies and gentlemen, maintains always.

As always feel free to leave a comment below, or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading.

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Week Seven - 5 Books On My Wish List!

Hi guys! It's time again for another Countdown to Christmas, however being that I have been away in London this week I still haven't finished a Christmas book or watched a Christmas film that I can review, so instead I'm bringing you 5 books that are on my Christmas wish list! I hope you enjoy!

1) Stalking Jack the Ripper/Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalo

2) They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

3) This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

4) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

5) All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

What books are on your wish list this festive season? As always feel free to leave a comment below or  @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

6 Weeks To Go!

ARC Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Hi guys! It's time for another book review, and this time I'm reviewing Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. I received an E-ARC of this book on Netgalley from the lovely Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review; this in no way affects my opinion of the title. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about E. Lockhart's latest.

From the author of the unforgettable bestseller WE WERE LIARS comes a suspenseful new psychological thriller - the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. 
But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Genuine Fraud tells the story of two girls, Imogen and Jule, unlikely friends who come from two very different backgrounds. Imogen is rich, spoiled, and an heiress. Jule feels grateful to be called her friend, happy to stand in Imogen's shadow. Imogen is tired of her parents' influence on her life and runs away. Jule is always by her side. But the story is far from being that simple, and Jule is much more than she appears to be.

Told via a non-linear narrative that starts in the present and goes back in time we see the events that led up to Jule's life in a hotel in Mexico and why she ends up having to leave on the run from a special agent on her tail. As time progresses slowly backwards we see how Jule's upbringing brought her to the life she is living, that Imogen has gone missing, and the dark reasons why that occurred. Lockhart moulds the tale itself with a twisting, weaving backstory so dark and complex it's like a drop of blood upon the floor and the millions of DNA strands contained within.

As the story delves deeper it becomes clear that both Imogen and Jule are hiding secrets, from themselves and from each other, and that their relationship is not entirely how it appears on the surface. We see crackling tension, breaks in the very foundation of their friendship, and how this affects the outcome of the entire story. As the conclusion comes to pass, light dawns on characters we the reader thought we knew, the novel exploding into jaw dropping clarity.

Honestly this story is a hard one to review as I normally would, because to say too much would be to spoil the story. This is part of the reason why it's taken me this long to write this review; it's really too complex a story to be summarised without spoiling in a few paragraphs.

Overall I will say that Genuine Fraud is equal parts tense, exciting, creepy, but also a bit confusing. I adored the story to a degree in the sense that the characters were addictive in their actions and flaws, how they affected the entire dynamic of the story, and the plot as a whole was so tense, so dark, I was determined to uncover the truth. But as each section delved further back in time I was getting quite confused with the timeline of events and linking everything together. This is personal opinion however. I scarcely like being kept too much in the dark when reading/consuming any type of media. I like being able to follow what's going on and while everything became clear in the end, I couldn't do this with Genuine Fraud, and that did affect my overall enjoyment of the book. Still it was a highly enjoyable read that I would recommend; I'd simply say that it's not an easy read and definitely one for when you have the time/energy to commit to the complex narrative.

Overall I give Genuine Fraud four stars, and end with saying I'd be interested in seeing whether a sequel is released, being that the end did leave things more than a little open for further story.

Have you read Genuine Fraud? What did you think of it? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf