Monday, 20 August 2012

Browsing Bookshelves Has Moved!

That's right everyone! Browsing Bookshelves has moved to a new domain! You can check out the new website here! Now that my blog has moved, I hope that many of my past followers will still stop by my new page for a visit. If you do not have a Wordpress account you can still follow Browsing Bookshelves' posts through Facebook or Twitter!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Stratford's Pirates of Penzance!

I am a HUGE theatre junkie. Whether its attending my local community theatre or making the trek out to Toronto, I will do anything it takes to catch the latest play or musical to hit the stage. During my time spent going to school in London, therefore,  the one thing at the top of my to-do list was to go and visit the neighbouring Stratford Festival Theatre! After drooling over their production schedules for about a month, I finally made the decision to go and see a performance of The Pirates of Penzance. Now, I don't typically review theatrical productions, but due to the fact that The Pirates of Penzance was beaten to a pulp by theatre critics from the Toronto Star and The London Free Press, I felt like I should come to its defence! Despite what these critics may have argued, I found Stratford's production to be entertaining, comical, and absolutely enjoyable!


The Pirates of Penzance is a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan about a young man named Frederic who is an apprentice to a soft-hearted crew of pirates. Upon being released from his service to the pirates upon turning 21 years old, Frederic goes ashore and falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of a Major General. To his dismay, however, Frederic soon discovers that he still owes 63 years of service to the pirate crew, and is left to choose between his sense of duty to the pirates and his love of Mabel. Despite the fact that the comic opera was first preformed in 1880, the humour and jokes are easily transferable to this century, and I found myself laughing out loud throughout the entire production!

 When it came to the actors, The Pirates of Penzance was brimming with stars. Both Sean Arbuckle as the Pirate King and KyleBlair as Frederic did stupendous jobs at bringing their quirky and slightly naive characters to life, well deserving the standing ovation that they received from the audience at the end of the show. It was Amy Wallis as Mabel, however, that blew me away during her performance of "Poor Wandering One!" I think my mouth literally dropped open at one point when I realized how many high notes she was able to hit during that one song alone!

The set and costumes of The Pirates of Penzance also didn't go unnoticed. I absolutely adored designer Paul Tazewell's use of the Steampunk aesthetic in his creation of the pirate's costumes, which helped to give them a bit more character. My only wish is that the steampunk elements had been carried more consistently throughout the rest of the production, such as the set. While somewhat sparse, the set did its job of bringing the pirate's ship and ruined chapel to life, but lacked any originality.

My only disappoint with this production was the second act, which didn't seem to have as much energy and magic as act one. Having never seen The Pirates of Penzance before, I was also slightly confused about the sudden appearance of Queen Victoria at the end. Nevertheless, I personally enjoyed my time spent watching The Pirates of Penzance, and would definitely recommend it to theatre lovers looking for an entertaining musical. If you are unsure about whether or not the operatic style of  The Pirates of Penzance would be for you, then check out a couple of my favourite songs from the production below. The first video is a brief snippet of Stratford's Amy Wallis singing "Poor Wandering One" (mentioned previously), while the second is my favourite song from the comic opera called "I Am The Very Model of A Modern Major General." 

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

Monday, 13 August 2012

My Obsession with Gail Carriger's Soulless

And I'm back! After a week consumed with moving my stuff back home from school and some time spent up north for a family reunion, I am back and ready for some serious blogging action! What better way to begin my return than a review of the absolutely amazing, spine-tingling, thrilling story of Soulless by Gail Carriger! Soulless is part of The Parousel Protectorate series which spans over the course of five novels. The manga adaptation, which is what I chose to read instead, published its first volume in March and will be releasing the second instalment in November. While I've never read any of the novels, the Soulless manga quite literally blew me away! It was absolutely FABULOUS!!!

The story of Soulless focuses on Alexia, a "soulless" 26 year old spinster living in a Victorian England that is inhabited by vampires and werewolves. When a group of these paranormal creatures begins to disappear, Alexia is sent to investigate the situation with the brooding, infuriating, and sexy Lord Maccon (who also happens to be a werewolf alpha). The result is a  steamy, adventurous, and comical story all wrapped up into one kickass manga!

As soon as I finished reading Soulless my hands were dying to get a hold of the next manga in the series! You know those rare books that make you go through withdrawal like some kind of crack addict? Well Soulless was one of those! I needed more of Alexia and Lord Maccon in my life! The two books that I read after it just paled in comparison because I couldn't get my mind off of Soulless no matter how hard I tried. There is just no denying it.... I'm officially obsessed with this series.

Not only was the story of Soulless amazing, but the illustrations were absolutely breathtaking! I'm very picky when it comes to artwork in graphic novels, but Rem (the artist), did a stupendous job! The illustrations were fresh, expressive, and even comical at times. I used to read a lot of manga back in high school, and I would definitely say that Rem's work can easily stand alongside some of my favourite Japanese manga artists. I've included an example from one of the pages below so you can get a taste of what the manga is actually like.

So, who would I recommend Soulless the manga to? Despite the fact that manga and graphic novels aren't typically everyone's cup of tea, I would strongly urge anyone with a love of paranormal romance stories to give this series a try. If you are hesitant about the whole graphic novel format, then maybe you should try out the actual novels first! Now that I'm officially hooked I'll definitely be checking out the original novels next, that way I'll have something to occupy me until Volume 2 of the manga adaptation is released!

Rating: 5 Stars!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Blogger Vacation.....

Soooo....its the final crunch time in my Master's program which means that I am swamped with projects and assignments! In order to keep my sanity, blogging has had to be pushed to the side for the next couple of weeks. That doesn't mean I have stopped reading though too! Over the past week I've managed to devour both This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel and The Jane Austen Marriage Manuel by Kim Izzo! They were both pretty good in their own way, although I wasn't extremely blown away by either of them. Right now I'm about halfway through Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and its pretty action packed! Anyways! The whole point of this post was to say that I will be disappearing from the blogsphere for the next couple of weeks, and will probably return mid-August! See you all then!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

(Spoiler Free!)
One word to describe The Dark Knight Rises? How about EPIC! Even though I may have only gotten 4 hours of sleep last night, going to the midnight showing with some of my friends from school was totally worth it! Christopher Nolan has once again brought the world of Batman to life in a way no other superhero movie has before! Sure, The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman were action packed and funny, but their plots were no where near as complex and mind bending as that of The Dark Knight Rises. There were so many twists and turns, especially in the last 20 minutes of the movie, that I honestly had no idea what to expect next!

The acting in The Dark Knight Rises was also pretty phenomenal! While I'm not typically an Anne Hathaway fan, I have to admit that she did an amazing job bringing Catwoman's character to life! I was also happy to discover that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character was more prominent in the movie than I had originally anticipated. An interesting twist at the end with his character elicited a gasp from me and had me crossing my fingers that Christopher Nolan was hinting at some kind of spin-off movie (although the chances at that are pretty slim I would imagine).

Now, those of you who are huge fans of The Dark Knight are probably wondering how it compares to The Dark Knight Rises. In my opinion, the plot of The Dark Knight Rises hands down beats out that of The Dark Knight. Keeping that in mind, I will admit, however, that I found Bane to be somewhat boring and uninteresting compared to Heath Ledger's outstanding portrayal of The Joker. The parts featuring Bane were often the least interesting to me, that is until some interesting facts about his life were finally revealed near the end. That isn't to say that Tom Hardy didn't do a good job at acting as Bane, I think he just had a really tough act to follow after Health Ledger's oscar winning performance.

Now that The Dark Knight trilogy is over, I'm kind of sad that I won't have any new Batman movies to look forward to in the future. Who knows how many years it will be until a director is brave enough to challenge Christopher Nolan's masterpiece with an adaptation of their own? On the brightside, however, I have never been as satisfied with the ending of a film trilogy before as I was with The Dark Knight Rises. The last five minutes of the movie ties some of loose strings together and leaves the audience feeling satisfied and amazed. In short: If you are going to see one movie this summer make sure that its The Dark Knight Rises!

Rating: 5 Stars


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A Little Bit Of Batman Humour to Brighten Your Day

With the end of my summer term just around the corner the assignments are starting to pile up! Unfortunately, this has caused my blog to suffer over the past two weeks for which I greatly apologize! One of my friends from school, however, shared this awesome video below with me this morning and totally brightened my day! Batman fans will definitely get more then a few giggles out of this funny mash-up! I'm REALLY looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises and will be going with some friends to see the midnight showing on Thursday. Hopefully it's as epic as it looks! Is anyone else planning on going to the midnight showing or am I the only crazy one out there? 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship With Sophie Kinsella: A Book Review of I've Got Your Number

This past weekend I finally had the chance to indulge in some much needed chick lit therapy after I picked up a copy of Sophie Kinsella's newest novel, I've Got Your Number from my local library. Over the years I've managed to read my way through all of her books (except the last one in the Shopoholic series), but it has surprisingly been three years since her last standalone novel, Twenties Girl, came out. Due to this huge length of time, I had forgotten a lot about Kinsella's writing style and the emotions that it tends to evoke in me as a reader. As soon as I picked up I've Got Your Number, however, it all came flooding back oh so quickly.... I have a love/hate relationship with Sophie Kinsella.

Now you are probably wondering... what do I mean by a love/hate relationship? Well, as much as I enjoy my time spent relaxing and reading Kinsella's novels, there is always a point in her books where I  am overcome with pure frustration. Sure her books are light hearted and funny, but her characters are always the exact same! Whether its Becky's obsession with shopping in the Shopoholic series or Poppy's inability to keep her nose out of other people's lives in I've Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella's female characters are always self destructive in some form or another!

Even though its funny to see the situations that these bad decisions get the characters into, I can't help but cringe every time they do something that is obviously going to blow up in their faces. At some points I just feel like screaming at the characters and saying "NO! DON'T DO IT YOU IDIOT!" Luckily, the character of Poppy in Kinsella's latest novel wasn't quite as daft as her previous female heroines. In fact, I was somewhat impressed by her general perceptiveness and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this perception did not prevent her from messing up big time when it came to getting involved in the personal life of a complete stranger.

Although I may HATE Kinsella's self-destructive heroines, there is no denying that her novels are great for a laugh and some good romance (hence the "Love" part of this love/hate relationship). I've Got Your Number was no exception to this trend. As much as Poppy made me want to tear out my hair at times, there were definitely parts of the story that made me crack a smile, and at one point I even snorted out loud trying to hold in my laughter (much to the amusement of my friends laying beside me on the beach).

My favourite part of I've Got Your Number, however, was the amount of texts and emails included in the book between Poppy and Sam. I don't know what it is about text messages and emails, but I immediately fall in love with any chick lit book that includes them (like Meg Cabot's Boy series!!)! I know...I'm weird! Or do other people find that style of writing strangely attractive as well? Maybe its because these texts and emails make the characters seem more natural and lifelike then some of the crazy thoughts and dialogues provided throughout the rest of the story.

Overall, I've Got Your Number was frustrating at times, but its humour and lightheartedness more then made up for it! It's definitely the perfect beach/summer read for those of you looking for a book to relax and unwind to! While Sophie Kinsella's self-destructive characters can drive me crazy, I'll nevertheless be anxiously awaiting to see what crazy story she ends up writing next!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Monday, 9 July 2012

Reader Recommends: A Certain Slant of Light

I know one of the main functions of book blogging is recommending books to other readers, but I sometimes feel like its hard to wade your way through so many reviews to really find those books that have left a lasting impression on someone. Sure, you can usually tell that someone has loved a book through there enthusiastic reviews and 5 star ratings, but when push comes to shove, which book is it that they just can't get out of their head? This week on Reader Recommends, Jenny from  Alternate Readality is recommending A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb.

Well, I have so many favorite books I could choose from but I decided to go with one I think deserves more love than it gets. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb.
1. Who recommended this book to you? If it wasn't a recommendation, why did you decide to read it?

To be honest, I haven't got a clue how I first came upon this one. I'm guessing I saw it during one of my Goodreads browsing sessions. The cover caught my eye and then I read the synopsis and was hooked. So, off I ran to Borders (back when good 'ol Borders still existed *sniffs*) and purchased a copy. Boy, am I glad I did, and even more glad that I didn't wait too long to read it. 

2. What are your favourite things about this book?

This is a paranormal book that feels like contemporary. So much so, in fact, that it was shelved in the contemporary section of books at Borders, now that I think about it. It was exciting and fascinating with that supernatural element and yet touching and deep in the way a contemporary book often is. The characters were so life like; real. I still remember them and the emotions they invoked. But mostly what I loved was the feeling I had while reading this one. A sort of intrigued sadness and hope that settled over me the minute I picked the book up. The writing, the characters, the story, all of it was just so wonderful. Sheesh! I can't talk about this without wanting to reread now! 

3. Why would you recommend this book to someone else?

When you read a book this beautiful, this emotion inducing, you can't help but shut it upon finishing and scan your surroundings for people to shove it at and say, "read this, read it now!" Maybe it touched you; spoke to you. Maybe you related to the characters. Maybe the story was just that awesome. Whatever the reason we all have those books that just speak to us. When a book does that you can't help but want to give it to others and let it speak to them too. 

4. What kind of readers would you recommend this book to? 

The best compliment I, or anyone else, can give a book (in my opinion) is to recommend it. Recommend it to someone without consideration of who it is or what they usually read. This book was one of those books I shoved on anyone I could. I didn't care if there were things in it that might bother certain readers. I knew, in this case, these things wouldn't bother them. And guess what? I was right.  It's just too beautiful a story; its faults (if there are any) easily overlooked. A Certain Slant of Light will always be a favorite of mine. As I said before, it's the type of book I'd recommend to anyone. Even to those who don't like YA. Even to those who don't do paranormal/fantasy. Even to those who don't like ghosts. And especially to those who "think" they don't like fiction.

Thanks Jenny! I'm definitely adding this one to my reading list now! Make sure to stop by Jenny's blog and check out some of her other great reviews! 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Book Review: Obsidian

Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 
The hot alien living next door marks me.
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 
If I don't kill him first, that is.

Holy Freaking Awesomeness Batman! Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout was WAY better than I anticipated. Excuse me for a second while I step away to wipe the drool from my mouth. Sure I've read a lot of raving reviews about it, but I still didn't expect myself to enjoy Obsidian quite as much as I did!  Where should I even begin this review? How about with the obvious....Daemon. 

Sure he's super arrogant, sarcastic, and a big tool, but I dare any female reader not to fall in love with him! His devotion to his family is adorable and he gets big "bonus points" from me for doing anything he can to protect them. I've been terrified of aliens ever since I saw E.T. as a little kid, but if every alien looked like Daemon I'm sure that fear would be forever cured in seconds! The chemistry between him and Katy was undeniable, and I loved their constant bickering and fighting! 

Book Bloggers (or those familiar with the blogging world), will especially get a kick out of Obsidian as the main female character is a book blogger herself! References to things like Waiting on Wednesday and IMM are sure to make book bloggers feel at home. I also couldn't help but notice more than a few references in Obsidian to Jus Accardo's book Touch (another amazing read!), which made me smile and feel like I was part of a big inside joke. Long story short, Katy's obsession with books (which mirrors my own) quickly won her over in my opinion! 

The plot of Obsidian was also really good! While it will come to readers as no big surprise that Daemon is an alien (I mean, it's given away right in the synopsis!), there are more then enough twists and turns to keep readers more then entertained. Jennifer L. Armentrout definitely knows how to weave a good story and I'm already on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what will happen to Daemon, Katy, and Dee next! Thankfully I don't have that much longer to wait, as the next instalment, Onyx, is set to hit store shelves in August! Thank goodness! 

All in all Obsidian was a delicious read and I highly recommend it to fans of YA romance and science fiction! In my opinion it was definitely worth the ten bucks that I spent on my copy! If you haven't had a chance to read it yet then get off your butt and go pick up a copy now! 

Rating: 5 Stars 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Reader Recommends!

For those of you who don't already know, I'm currently working towards completing my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. Over the past year I've taken some pretty interesting courses and completed A LOT of assignments, but by far my most favourite part of school has been listening to some of the book talks put on by my fellow classmates. Book talks are basically short presentations where someone picks one of their favourite books and describes what they loved about it and what kind of readers that they would recommend it to. Through these book talks I've learned about a ton of great books that I probably would never have tried if it hadn't been for the recommendations of my friends at school.

I know one of the main functions of book blogging is recommending books to other readers, but I sometimes feel like its hard to wade your way through so many reviews to really find those books that have left a lasting impression on someone. Sure, you can usually tell that someone has loved a book through there enthusiastic reviews and 5 star ratings, but when push comes to shove, which book is it that they just can't get out of their head? For this reason I've decided to start a little series called Reader Recommends, where I'll have some of my friends and fellow bloggers share their all time favourite books with you!

First up this week is my wonderful friend Jackie from The Hardcover Obsession! You should see the mountain of books this girl has at her house! It's like Mt. Everest! Jackie has been blogging for almost a year now and is the official YA book blogger for Razorbill Canada. Enjoy!

Thanks Jackie! If you want to take part in Reader Recommends and share your favourite book with others then don't hesitate to send me an email at nspaan89 at gmail! The more the merrier!