Tuesday, 5 December 2017

December Blitz 5: Movie Review - Love You Like Christmas

Hey guys! It's time for another December Blitz and another movie review! This one's quick because I'm kind of on the last minute and need to sleep but I promised one every day, so... Enjoy!

Today I'm reviewing a lovely romance called Love You Like Christmas.

"A high-powered executive reconsiders her priorities when car trouble leads her to Christmas Valley, a town in love with Christmas."

This film was a little bit predictable in the beginning especially I'll admit, with your main character a typical workaholic who gets stuck in a small town that loves Christmas at the most inopportune time. She obviously suffers from a work/romance imbalance which is the centre of the drama that unfolds as she falls for the guy in the small town with a cute daughter, who all love Christmas.

At the same time it was more than that. It was warm and fuzzy and romantic, yes. It was very christmassy and wholesome, yes. But it also had an important message about how much work can dictate our lives and that it shouldn't get in the way of the important things, in the way of what we really want. So really, at the crux of it all, it was a lovely story about life.

I'd definitely recommend it for a lovely winter watch, especially if - like me - you're feeling a little overwhelmed by everything at the moment and need a bit of a spirit booster.

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

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Settings I'd Love To Visit.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, here, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category.

This week we've been asked to list our Top Ten Bookish Settings, so here's mine!

1) Lormere - The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy.

2) Narnia - The Chronicles of Narnia.

3) Hogwarts - Harry Potter.

4) Revolutionary France - Les Miserables.

5) Paris Opera House - Phantom of the Opera.

6) Red London - A Darker Shade of Magic.

7) Tempesia - Frostblood.

8) Caraval - Caraval.

9) Arden - Flamecaster.

10) The Magisterium - Magisterium Chronicles.

Which bookish places would you love to visit?

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

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 4 December 2017

Cover Spotlight Monday: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Hey guys! Today for Cover Spotlight Monday I'm featuring the amazing UK cover for Renegades by Marissa Meyer! WOOOOOO! I managed to get an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley and I cannot wait to get around to reading it! I'm so psyched!

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

If you know me you know I love superheroes so this book is totally my thing but look at that cover! Isn't it gorgeous? I really love how simplistic the design is, matching the simplicity of her previous release, Heartless, which I also loved, so they'll go lovely together.

The main thing I love is the design really. The centre design really captures every iconic image regarding superheroes in one lovely but simple mash up. The two characters mirroring each other shows their opposition, while the lightning bolt design imbues the cover and therefore the story with energy and electricity.

I also love the blue theme that (if you've seen the US promo pin badges) stands for the Renegades, while the tag line brings a sense of intrigue. It's definitely one of those books I'd buy on the cover alone! What do you think?

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

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

December Blitz 4: Movie Review - On The 12th Day Of Christmas

Hey guys! Time for another December Blitz post and today it's another movie review from the Christmas 24 channel! Yay!

Today I'm bringing you a review of On the 12th Day of Christmas; a really heartwarming tale reminiscent of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares/The 12 Days of Dash and Lily.

"Maggie is thrilled when Mitch, her long time crush, moves back to town. When she learns Mitch's love for Christmas has drastically changed, she tries to bring his holiday spirit back by showing him the magic of Christmas."

This was a wonderfully Christmassy film to watch this past week, with a good dose of romance right on top. It was actually - in a way - more a romcom set at Christmas than a Christmas romance in the sense that the plot itself could have taken place at any time in the year, but it was made all the more special by being at Christmas. Basically Maggie finds out Mitch - her long time crush - has fallen out of love with Christmas, which he once adored (as shown via flashback), so she sets out to give him 12 Secret Santa gifts to remind him of the joys of the season. Obviously things are never that simple though and hijinks ensue.

The giving of the gifts reminded me a little of the Dash and Lily books by Levithan and Cohn, and I think that was one of the things I loved about the film. It was cute and romantic, if not a little cheesy, in all the right places and really gave me those ooey gooey Christmassy feels. If anything it made me want to surprise someone with my own 12 Days of Christmas gifts!

Unlike a lot of Christmas films however this one actually had an emotional storyline running through the centre, a character driven centre rather than plot driven, so to speak, and I think it lent a lot to both characters and story. I for one was definitely wiping away a few tears in the closing moments.

Overall this film is a wonderful one to watch this Christmas, but do have a box of tissues handy!

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

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs - Why The 'Love, Simon' Movie Is So Important!

Hello my lovely readers! Today for Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs I decided to talk about one of the most awesome things that happened this week, and that is the release of the 'Love, Simon' trailer! If you're not familiar, 'Love, Simon' is the name of the upcoming mainstream movie based on Becky Albertalli's fabulous book 'Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda'. It looks so freaking amazing and I can't wait to see it! Specifically though I wanted to talk about why this movie is such a big deal and what it means to the LGBT community.

Firstly, this is a mainstream movie. It's not a little independent studio taking on this book. It's big. It's real. It's a big, real film about a gay teen, and that is huge. Rarely before has the LGBT community had such amazing representation in mainstream cinema, and we could not be more excited about it! I've watched the trailer myself a good few times and I keep getting even more excited each time I do; it just looks so amazing. True to the book, yes, but also on its own just a wonderful romance with a gay teen at its heart. Perfect.

Secondly, of course, the film isn't just about someone who is gay. It's about a gay teen. That's huge in itself. I'm sure I won't be the only person in their mid 20's still figuring out who they are in this crazy world, but I'm sure I would have figured a lot of it out sooner if I'd had such wonderful accurate rep in mainstream media and books as a teen. So for this movie to come out when there will be a whole generation of teens struggling with those same issues is just wonderful.

Lastly, the messages in the book, and therefore no doubt in the film, are so poignant, so applicable to today's world.

"Straight people should have to come out too."

"There shouldn't even be a default."

Those powerful messages are going to be in a mainstream movie and wow... That's just... Wow.

I honestly cannot wait for this movie to finally be released. It will be a long time coming indeed, in more ways than one.

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

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Countdown to Christmas: Week Ten - Ten Books I Would Gift!

Hello everyone! It's time again for another Countdown to Christmas and today I'm talking about the ten books I would gift to a book lover. They're not specific categories or anything, just books I love that I would always love to share. I hope you enjoy!

1) The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - Ya'll know I love this series so much, so of course it's here. I've already gifted it once or twice!

2) House of Windows by Alexia Casale - Another one of my favourites and so awesome!

3) Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - A Christmassy favourite along with the sequel, The 12 Days of Dash and Lily.

4) Roseblood by A G Howard - Perfect for any Phantom fans!

5) Vendetta by Catherine Doyle - Who doesn't love mafia boys?!

6) Moondust by Gemma Fowler - Space fun!

7) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - I don't really need to explain this one, do I?

8) A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab - Kell, Lila, Rhy and Alucard all the way!

9) Wing Jones by Katherine Webber - Such a beautiful book and so poignant!

10) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - Victorian London and wonderful characters. One of my faves!

What gifts would you give this holiday season? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

3 Weeks To Go!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Saturday Series: Love, Hate or Both? - Being An International Blogger.

Hey guys! Today for 'Love, Hate or Both?' I was originally going to talk about Tropes In Fiction, but that's going to have to wait until next time because a new development in the Blogosphere was seen on Twitter today, and I kind of want to talk about what it seems to mean, and my thoughts about it.

Basically if you've been anywhere near Twitter today you might have seen the comments regarding what are new policy changes on Goodreads and Netgalley. The Netgalley one seems more speculated to be honest, from what I've seen any way, but if it's true it spells a second hit of bad luck for any bloggers who aren't in the US. I'll talk about Goodreads first.

Goodreads has introduced a new policy regarding the giveaways posted on their site. Not only do authors and publishers now have to pay to host giveaways (Which for self pubbed/independent authors and publishers, this is not good) but worse for us readers they are all now going to be marked with that dreaded US Only stamp. For US bloggers the chances of giveaways will be slimmer due to the 'paid' aspect now, but for international bloggers like myself, we're just not getting a look in anymore.

Netgalley meanwhile is also rumoured to be favouring US bloggers, with a fair amount of international bloggers stating they've seen the 'wish for it' button a lot more than the 'request' button. This could be just to do with distribution rights, but it's causing an amount of worry in bloggers on Twitter. We can only hope it's a coincidence.

I'll admit my blogging has been somewhat lax for quite a while now for many personal reasons, and I am quite behind on the ARCs/E-ARCs/Review Copies I have, but I'm determined to get back on track and make 2018 my best blogging year yet. I will also quite rightly say that we, as bloggers, feel no entitlement to ARCs etc whatsoever. They're a nice perk of what can be a very demanding hobby, but they're not crucial to our ability to spread the love and joy of books. Yet, when it has been difficult enough as it is to get access to some ARCs (Or even buying finished copies in general!) due to things like distribution rights, and when we don't have the 'convention scene' that the US does (And when flights and baggage fees are so expensive!) it's really disheartening for these two sites to make these changes.

I've seen a few comments on Twitter saying such, and I 100% feel the same, but it's almost like the publishing industry is saying we don't matter. Bloggers have always been happy to do what we do and ask for nothing in return; we always will be. This is our hobby because we love books; nothing more than that. As I said, ARCs are just a nice perk. But when bloggers are being geographically separated, that's less about entitlement as a blogger in general, and more about the notion that some bloggers are better than others, and that's nothing to do with passion or content.

I'll blog for as long as I am always able, even if it's not always very frequent, and I'll love it forever, but whether I continue to use the services of Goodreads and Netgalley is another story.

What are your thoughts on these developments? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

December Blitz 2: Movie Review - Last Chance For Christmas

Hey guys! It's December 2nd and that means it's time for another movie review! Yes, it's December Blitz time! WOOOOOOOO!

This time I'm reviewing Last Chance for Christmas which I watched last weekend on the always festive Christmas24 channel!

"Santa's stockman has to find a replacement for an injured reindeer. When he locates one, complications and love ensue."

I absolutely loved this movie. Yes it again was your typical cheesy Hallmark movie, but aren't they all and don't we love them all the same anyway? For me watching these films are 100% a part of Christmas, even if they are all quite predictable.

Last Chance for Christmas tells the story of John, Santa's stablehand, who's much more used to be able to communicate with animals than people. When Prancer injures his hoof John is forced to find a replacement reindeer in the few days remaining before Christmas Eve, but this unfortunately means traveling to a little town in Alaska to speak to the owner of a Reindeer farm there. John is not good with people and this makes for some hilarious first encounters with Annie, the old ranch owner's daughter.

Of course sparks fly but there's the old Mr Buckley to deal with first, who wants Annie to sell the farm to him so he can build a ski resort. He promises to make all her money troubles go away, but Annie also has to think of her daughter Maddie and her special connection to the reindeer, specifically Frankie. In true Christmas style John is there to offer support and help save the day, even if it isn't always easy.

There was so much Christmas joy and magic in this movie it was infectious and really got me into the Christmas spirit. It really was just a fun story to watch unfold with a cup of hot chocolate and a thick duvet. My only negative point about it really would be that Mrs Claus is a little bit immoral in some of her actions and the choices she makes regarding the problem of getting a replacement reindeer. In the end Maddie forgives her very easily because, of course it's Santa's wife, but it begs the moral implication of 'there were no consequences because of who she is'. Then again it is a Christmas film I suppose, but it just didn't sit quite right with me.

I will praise John's character however because it's one of the few instances in a Christmas film where the male character isn't all swagger and charm but actually suffers from social anxiety and communication issues, which I thought was very well done.

Thanks for reading and as always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Friday, 1 December 2017

December Blitz 1: Movie Review - Becoming Santa

Hey everyone! It's now December and that means the start of my new feature titled December Blitz! In these posts, one for each day of December, I will be reviewing Christmas movies and books in an aim to both spotlight these wonderful works but also perhaps help you decide what to watch and read this holiday season!

Today I decided to write a review of a funny, heartwarming movie I watched last week while I was a little under the weather. It was called Becoming Santa, and it was the perfect holiday watch.

"A woman brings her boyfriend home for Christmas to meet her parents, Santa and Mrs. Claus. He must decide if he's willing to continue their relationship after learning that he'd be next in line for Santa's job."

I absolutely adored this film. Yes it was your cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie, but what's Christmas without these films, really? To me, laughing at the cheesy dialogue and loving the over the top, often predictable romance and cliches is part of the holiday fun! Becoming Santa was the perfect mix of cheese, romance, and 100% Christmas magic.

I'll admit that one of the things I loved about this film was that the main character was called Holly. Yes, I'm a little bit of a sucker for Christmas films with characters called Holly, but I'm allowed to be, haha. Holly is Santa's daughter (Dream role really, right?) but hasn't told her 'normal' boyfriend Connor where she's really from and what her father really does. Problems arise when Connor decides he wants her parents' blessing before he proposes to her, and when better to visit than for the holiday season? This of course causes a slightly predictable and cheesy plot to unravel where he discovers everything about her family and is of course more than a little taken aback, but the way the film is written makes it heartwarming and funny all the same.

One of the best parts of this plot, in my opinion, was when Connor (as in the description above) finds out he could be next in line for Santa's job. Queue hilarious 'training' scenes complete with cheesy grins and many a 'ho ho ho'.

I also loved that the movie's 'villain' was none other than Jack Frost. A little bit of a cliche (As with Santa Clause 3 for example) but this film actually reworked Jack and made him more unique, in quite a humorous way too. He was a good character to 'boo' and to enjoy seeing him lose (Of course!).

Mostly I just loved how much this film captured the joy and magic of Christmas, the belief of and in Santa Clause, and the entire reason we watch these films; to be happy. It was simply a happy film, and a wonderful watch for this Christmas season.

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

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hey guys! It's time for another Waiting on Wednesday and today I'm spotlighting one of my most anticipated 2018 releases! It is of course Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi!

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Words cannot describe how excited I am for this book! Most importantly of course it is an own voices book, which we just don't seem to have enough of in YA these days (Or what we do have just isn't promoted nearly enough)! I am so excited to see everything this amazing debut author has in store for us, and the powerful story that is without a doubt lurking behind such a gorgeous, equally powerful, cover.

I'm also so excited for this book simply because I adore well written fantasy novels, and this just sounds INCREDIBLE. Yes, the caps lock is necessary. I am so excited to finally get my hands on this beauty! March 6th cannot come soon enough!

Are you excited for Children of Blood and Bone? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, here, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category.

Hey guys! Today for Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked to list our Top Ten Winter TBR books, so here's mine! I'm not including Christmas books as they're part of my Winter Challenge/Countdown to Christmas/December Blitz. I hope you enjoy!

1) Zenith by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg - A January 2018 release I'm so excited to read. I've already started it and *Heart Eyes*

2) Everless by Sara Holland - Another Jan 2018 release I'm desperate to dig into.

3) Renegades by Marissa Meyer - Will be released later in 2018 but I'm so psyched to read it!

4) The Waking Land by Callie Bates - Really need to finish this one.

5) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - I call myself a Les Mis fan and yet I've never read it!

6) The Never King by James Abbott - Been meaning to read it for a while.

7) Flame In The Mist by Renee Adieh - One I need to catch up on.

8) Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima - Another I need to catch up on.

9) Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell - I'm eager to read this one.

10) Warcross by Marie Lu - So excited!

So those are the main books on my Winter TBR! What are yours? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 27 November 2017

Cover Spotlight Monday: Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell

Hey guys! Today for Cover Spotlight Monday I've decided to spotlight a book that I haven't read yet (But will soon) but which has one of my favourite covers (Half of the reason I bought it)! That book is Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell. Just look at it! *Squeals*

Magic is a con game. 

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

There are so many reasons I adore this cover. Most importantly I love the depictions of the two characters. They're obviously supposed to be Kellen and Ferius, as per the summary, but I adore how much detail has been put into the artwork. I love how mysterious they both seem, Kellen with his magic, and 'feral cat?' and Ferius with her deck of cards and wide brim hat. Both images just make me want to read the book even more!

What I also love is how the two images mirror each other, as if they are the yin to each other's yang. It makes me wonder how they will play against each other in the story, and perhaps whether they may end up on opposing sides?

I also love how the cover itself is designed like a playing card, obviously to mimic Ferius' decks.

Lastly my paperback copy has red sprayed edges to match, which makes it even more beautiful.

It really is just a stunning cover.

What do you think of the cover for Spellslinger? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Week Nine - Mini Movie Roundup!

Hey guys! It's time for another Countdown to Christmas! I was unwell on Friday so when I wasn't sleeping I was curled up watching Christmas Movies, therefore today I'm bringing you a mini roundup of the Christmas movies I watched. I hope you enjoy, and look out for full reviews in December!

1) Last Chance for Christmas - A wonderful heartwarming tale about a reindeer farm in need of being saved from a ruthless business tycoon who wants to turn the land into a ski resort. In the end a little reminiscent in some parts of Citizen Kane (Just a little) but with cute reindeers and an adorable winter romance! When Prancer is injured days before Christmas it's up to Santa's stable hand and Frankie the reindeer to save the day, with a little romance along the way!

2) On the 12th Day of Christmas - This one really reminded me of The 12 Days of Dash and Lily by Levithan and Cohn which I read last year. A journalist sends 12 gifts to her old college crush who's fallen out of love with Christmas, but of course things are never that simple!

3) Becoming Santa - Probably my favourite, with a big ole helping of brie! (Cheese, geddit? ;) ) Holly Claus, Santa's daughter (Can you see why I love it??),  brings home boyfriend Connor for the holidays. He wants to meet her parents and get their blessing for him to propose to her. The problem is he doesn't know her dad's real job, nor that it would be him to take over if he did marry her! Uh oh!

4) Love You Like Christmas - High powered Ad guru Maddie ends up stuck in Christmas Valley, Ohio, and befriends the daughter of Christmas Tree farm owner, Kevin. Sparks fly between Maddie and Kevin as she tries to help him save the farm, but she ends up torn between a possible new life there, and her current one in New York.

Have you watched any Christmas films yet this wintry season? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

4 weeks to go!

Fancast Friday: The Sin Eater's Daughter Trilogy by Melinda Salisbury

Hey guys! It's time for another Fancast Friday! It's a little late this week as I've been unwell with a head cold and spent most of Friday sleeping, but here we have my ultimate fancast for my favourite book series; it is of course The Sin Eater's Daughter Trilogy by Melinda Salisbury! I do hope you enjoy my casting!

Twylla Morvern: Karen Gillan - I adore Karen Gillan and although it would be a casting of the past, so to speak, how she was in Dr Who is pretty much how I see Twylla.

Merek Belmis: Ben Barnes - He was Prince Caspian, why not Prince Merek? Oh, that smoulder ;)

Lief Vastel: Bradley James - So I've recently gotten into Merlin and I think Bradley would make a wonderful Lief.

Errin Vastel: Alexandra Shipp - Exactly how I imagine Errin to be!

Silas: William Mosely - Another from my 'Narnia phase' but I really think he'd look good as Silas.

Aurek: Tom Felton - Had to get him in somewhere for Mel ;) I really think he'd make a good Aurek though.

Who would you cast if The Sin Eater's Daughter Trilogy became a movie series? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

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

Friday, 10 November 2017

Fancast Friday: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Hi guys! Today I'm delighted to bring you the first in a new feature series entitled Fancast Friday. Every two weeks on Friday I'll be presenting my own fancast for some of my favourite books and book series'. I do hope you'll enjoy them. Today I present my fancast for The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!

Henry "Monty" Montague: Thomas Brodie Sangster.

Percy Newton: John Boyega.

Felicity Montague: Dakota Blue Richards.

Obviously they'd be in period costume to actually the play the characters, were it to ever come to pass, but this is pretty much how I imagine the characters when reading TGGTVAV.

Who would you cast as Monty, Percy and Felicity? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Floored - A Novel by the UK's Best YA Authors!

Hi guys! It's time for another Waiting on Wednesday and today I'm so excited to talk about how ecstatic I am waiting for Floored! With some of my favourite authors working on this project such as Melinda Salisbury, Sara Barnard and Holly Bourne I just cannot wait for this book!


Told from the perspective of each character and a mysterious narrator, Floored is about all the ups and downs of life.

After they go through a traumatic experience together, the lives of six strangers become intertwined, and they decide to meet once a year to commemorate the day they met and the person they lost.

To me Floored sounds a little like The Breakfast Club meets a black and white thriller movie, so to speak. The Breakfast Club with more secrets and probably a good few pinches of the evilness that Melinda Salisbury is known for, and that makes me so amazingly excited.

I managed to get a sampler from YALC and can so far say that what I've read is amazing, and really is making me hanker for more. July 2018 cannot come soon enough!

I think what I love the most is that we've not - and never will be, I believe - been told which author has written which character (or the narrator) so I'm loving trying to guess!

Are you looking forward to Floored? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Characters Who Are/Would Have Made Great Leaders

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, here, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category.

It's time again for Top Ten Tuesday and today I'm talking about my favourite characters who are leaders, or who would have made great leaders. Yay! I hope you enjoy!

1) Enjolras - Les Miserables: I can't not talk about the great leader of the albeit failed revolution that is Enjolras. Hugo knew when he wrote Les Mis that Enjolras would be a beloved character, you can see that in the way he's written him, but oh how I do adore our beloved Apollo.

2) Twylla Morvern - The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy: You all know how much I love this book right? Then you also know how much I love Twylla, right? Enough said.

3) Wing Jones - Wing Jones: I adore Wing and she's so strong throughout the whole book that she is and would be a fabulous leader.

4) Vivian Carter - Moxie: I'm currently reading Moxie and Vivian is amazing. I'd follow her into battle 100%!

5) Liv - All the Feels: Leader of the fandom revolution!

Who are on your TTT for this week? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf