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!