Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote – First Impressions and Review.

When it comes to designer bags, I think I’ve invested wisely in particular brands/styles. If you’re curious about the pieces I’ve bought, then please take a while to look through my Neverfull review and Speedy review posts. However, recently I found myself at a bit of a loss when it came to deciding between my two Louis Vuitton’s. Due to the ever-changing nature of British weather, I needed a tote bag (for University and workimg_4073) that wouldn’t be as open as my Neverfull, but was both waterproof and smart. I also needed something that could double as an overnight bag, but wouldn’t look too oversized.
Through my research, I kept stumbling upon the Longchamp Le Pliage bags, and was intrigued by all the positive reviews that I found. For the price point (around £75) this line of bags has had devotees from the Duchess of Cambridge to It-Girl Alexa Chung, and was on the rise in popularity in my town.

So, after deciding upon a colour (Blue Mist – currently in stock for anyone curious) I had my sent from Selfridges to my work address, and I instantly fell in love with the practicality of such a well-constructed bag.

Made out of water-resistant Nylon, with a wipe-clean exterior and interior, this bag is incredibly roomy. I can easily pack my laptop, University books, change of clothes and my everyday essentials for a night away, and still have room to spare. With only a small inner pocket (big enough for some loose change and cards for ease of access) it is a real tote bag in all senses of the word. The Le Pliage also comes with beautiful cowhide snap closure and straps. At the moment, these straps haven’t lost their rigidity, so I do find that they can slip off my shoulder as I’m carrying it, but I’m sure that once they get a little more worn in, they’ll be fine. The straps are a lot thicker than that of the Neverfull, but I don’t find this an issue.

With a zip along the length of the entire bag, along with the snap closure, I feel quite safe carrying belongings in here as I think it’s quite secure. I’ve used this bag as a day-to-night bag, and even from University to date night, which is something I’m pleased that it can accommodate with. So far, it’s proved quite durable, and has dealt with some pretty horrific weather without anything getting wet, which also impressed me.

The Longchamp also has this nifty trick of being able to fold up to the size of a paperback book, which will be useful for the travelling that I intend on doing in the next week.

img_4069All in all, I’ve found no faults with this bag so far, apart from the slight grievance about the rigidity of the leather straps. However, I’m not sure over how durable it’ll be in the long run, but we shall have to see. For £75, I would definitely purchase again.

I bought my bag via Selfridges, and found the delivery and packaging quite satisfactory (you get a tracking number and necessary documentation) and my bag is in the colour Blue Mist – a choice so I could transition this bag from winter to summer without any clashes.

But if you’ve got a Longchamp or anything similar, I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment!

Longchamp’s Website

Trevarno Skincare – Product Review.

Like I’ve said before, skincare over the winter months is vitally important. Although I usually go for a staple system that, over the years, has been a go to throughout the year, the cooler months require just that extra TLC.
I was very lucky enough to be sent some products by the Cornish-based organic skincare range, Trevarno, to review. And quickly I fell in love with the products.

For Your Eyes

The first product I used, and quickly added to my morning routine was the Organic Eye Cream. Made from a mixture of essential oils, rosewater, eyebrighorganic_trevarno_eye_creamt, beeswax and cocoa butter, this product was designed to reduce puffiness and dark circles. As someone who suffers a lot from looking tired (working two jobs and a full time Uni course will do that to a person), I always use under-eye concealer as part of my makeup routine. But since I’ve added this eye-cream into my routine, I have noticed a visible difference. The cream is very thick and only a few dabs around your eye area will go a long way. It also absorbs easily into the skin, and doesn’t leave it feeling tacky. I particularly enjoyed the cooling sensation that it provided as well. It made me relax at night, but also feel alert in the mornings. The scent wasn’t overwhelming, and so far it hasn’t irritated my eyes. So all in all, a fab product.

Organic Eye Cream retails at £10 for 15ml/£18 for 30ml

For Your Hands

The second product I used was the Organic Nail Conditioner. As part of my job, I work in a bakery, and this is particularly tough on my hands. I’m lucky that I’ve never had real issues with splitting, but I used this conditioner as a preventative.organic_trevarno_nail_conditioner With clear instructions on how to use it, this conditioner has helped with reduction of ridging. With the appearance of a salve, the scent isn’t particularly strong, and I think is well worth the money as you get a lot of product. It’s also made my nails feel softer at the cuticles, and is a good step to use if you have to use nail varnish remover on your nails a lot (I love painting my fingernails, but due to work, I have to constantly remove the colour). I think this would work well for people with real nail issues.

Organic Nail Conditioner retails at £8 for 15ml/£12 for 30ml.

For Your Face

organic_trevarno_day_creamAnd last, but certainly not least, I was sent the Organic Day Cream. Now, I’ve got an issue with day creams/moisturisers. By my dermatologist’s recommendation (yes, I know I’m fancy), I really shouldn’t use products with too much oil on my face. Especially around my T-zone. So I was wary when I tried this. However, despite all my fears I was pleasantly surprised. The moisturiser didn’t flare my sensitive skin up, and I didn’t have issues with clogged pores. I noticed that it also helped calm my redness around my cheeks, and just left me with more of an even skintone. It also made my skin feel softer, and provided an excellent base for makeup. Also, with a pleasant floral scent of lavender and essential oils, I enjoyed the application of it, and it didn’t overwhelm me in the morning.

Organic Day Cream retails at £13.50 for 30ml/£18 for 60ml.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I was so happy with the products I was sent. The eye cream has become a staple in my skincare system for sure now, and I really enjoyed the use of the nail conditioner and day cream. Trevarno’s products are all organic, cruelty free and the ingredients all are ethically and sustainability sourced. They also have product lines for children, men and specialist skin issues, so really a win for everyone.

A big thank you to the team at Trevarno for letting me test and review these products. Please check them out! Links to everything is below.

Organic Nail Conditioner

Organic Day Cream

Organic Eye Cream

 

Trevarno Skincare Website

 

David Brent: Life on the Road (2016) – Film Review

Title: David Brent: Life on the Road

Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith, Tom Basden, Jo Hartley, Mandeep Dhillon

Director: Ricky Gervais

Genres: Comedy, British Sit-Com, Comedy, Mockumentary

Rating: 3/5


I’m not the biggest television watcher. I usually find things on Netflix, or on iPlayer catchup. But when it comes to actual sitting-down-television watching, it’s not really my thing. However, there is one thing that I love, and would happily sit down to watch, and that is good British comedy. Harking back to The Two Ronnies, Open david-brent-lor-main-posterAll Hours, Only Fools and Horses and Steptoe and Son, British situation comedys (sitcoms) will guarantee to put a smile on my face, and provide an easy and funny watching experience.

But there is one series that I have watched time after time again, and that is the 2001-2003 BBC mockumentary series, The Office. Following a fictional paper merchants, and the day-to-day life of its employees, The Office has a host of lovable and hilarious characters. But, to me, there is one standout character. And that is the irritating manager, David Brent.

Ricky Gervais’ character of the hapless, hilarious and dreadfully un-PC office manager garnered legions of fans, who tuned in weekly to see his antics, and after The Office finished its run, fans were left with a hole in their lives.

However, when it was announced that Gervais would bring his character back to life in a feature length film, there were mixed reactions. However, after seeing it last week, I was pleased to say that the film felt fresh, but with all the charm of The Office.

Over ten years have passed since we last left David Brent. And now, the middle-aged and largely friendless rep has decided that he wants one last hurrah into the music world, and re-visit the music world of his youth. Bringing back his old (with none of the original members) band, Foregone Conclusion, Brent finances an ill-fated tour around the South East, and lives out his dream of pop stardom.

Overall, I’d say this film was a light-hearted, laugh out loud journey. It was never meant to be serious, nor did David Brent necessarily have to change as a character. He was always going to have this vein of being un-PC, yet in this film we do see more of a sensitive side to Brent. His dealings with mental health issue, loneliness and romance were always brushed off in a typical funny manner, yet felt very personal if you explore it.

For me, the songs were the funniest parts, as the lyrics were so offensive that they couldn’t work in any other scenario other than with David Brent. The humour was often light, off-handed comments that almost make you double take, and the storyline was quite sweet in the way that Brent never stopped believing or dreaming.

What I was very happy about is the fact that the jokes were all fresh material, and it wasn’t a compilation from the series. Unfortunately, as I stated in my Absolutely Fabulous review, this happened in that film, and felt very disappointing.

The David Brent movie isn’t meant to be hard-hitting movie, and may not appeal to fans of the show who found David Brent irritating, but I found it funny and lighthearted.

The film is out now.life-on-the-road

 

 

 

Top 5 – Non-Fiction Books.

As a avid book lover, I’ve always got a book or some sort of reading material about my person. And despite being a huge fiction fanatic, I’ve found myself branching more and more into non-fiction literature. Whether it be self-help books, scientific theory, conspiracy novels or just autobiographies, I find it to be a welcome read when the world of fiction overwhelms me.

So inspired by Carrie Hope Fletcher’s recent ‘Books that have Changed my Life’ , I’ve decided to jot down my favourite non-fiction books.

1: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

A timeless book that deserves a reread throughout the years. Sensitively written, very descriptive and one of those books that just stays with you. Anne Frank is one of my personal heroes, and her story is not only timeless, but translateable across any age, gender and background. A story about survival, love, loss and growing up during Nazi Germany.61ekmew9gsl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

2: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie.

This biography of the last Tsar of Russia and his family is easy to read, full of digestible information and good enough for any budding Russian historians, or modern history fans. Despite having a collection of over 100 books on the Romanovs, I always credit this book as being my favourite, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

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3: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

As one of my favourite authors, George Orwell’s way of writing will always hit a very personal vibe with me. His writing about experiencing the Spanish Civil War show the brutality of the war, along with the bravery of local people. A must read if you’re interested in war, politics, Stalinism or literature.9780141183053

4: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Known as the first ‘faction’/’non-fiction novel’, this story is Capote’s account of murder in a small town community, and the shockwaves it sends through the community. Highly researched and depicted through films like Capote and Infamous, this novel is very addictive, fairly sensitive and features backstories on the murderers unlike you’ve ever read before.

A brilliant, brilliant book.

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5: Hungry by Crystal Renn.

This is a must-have book for anyone who’s interested in the beauty/fashion industry, along with the very social media tag #effyourbeautystandards. Crystal Renn was cited as an up-and-coming supermodel, but told to lose weight. Due to the pressure of the job, Crystal soon developed a series of eating disorders.
This book is fascinating for any one who is struggling with their weight and being accepted into society. Despite Crystal no longer being the size 16 plus-size model she once was famed to be, I find it still very relevant as a memoir.

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Disclaimer – all opinions, favourites and views are my own.

So these are my favourite non-fiction books. I’ve been really enjoying doing these Top 5 posts. Let me know if you have any suggestions for the next load!

 

The Many by Wyl Menmuir – Book Review

Title: The Many

Author: Wyl Menmuir

Rating: 4/5

Fantasy: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Ghostly


As part of my job, I’m very lucky that I can go and interview authors and people of note. So when I was put onto contacting and reading The Many by Wyl Menmuir, I was not only excited to have some new reading material, but intrigued that this small publication (independently pushed and just over 130 pages long) has been long-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

So I picked up a copy from my local bookshop, and set about reading. It took me just over an hour to devour it, and I’m pleased to say I was hooked. The Many is worthy of the nomination, as the story is brilliantly woven, expertly told and with different voices and with a satisfying ending that will both leave questions unsolved, yet the reader entirely sated.

9781784630485_grandeSet in an unnamed fishing community on the North Cornish coast, the novel focuses around a new arrival to a very close-knit and closeted community. On paper, Timothy Bucchanan’s move from London to the village makes perfect sense. However, the narrative dives into a world that is completely isolated, mysterious and unfriendly to newcomers. With the ghost of a man that still holds sway over the locals, wasted fish being hauled from a contaminated sea, and unsettling dreams, Timothy soon gets swept up in village life, and with thousands of questions going unanswered, Timothy decides secrets must be unveiled, and the past has to be dug up.

The Many is rare in how it spans and encapulates different literary genres. With biological warfare and contaminated seas signalling science fiction, a world that is cut off and completely isolated being something out of dystopian literature, a murder mystery that has yet to be solved, and a touch of fantasy blending alongside magical realism, this novel feels a lot bigger than it physically is. Menmuir has given the readers enough of the characters to be interested by them, but not bog them down with unneccessary backstories. The figure of Perran, a character who died years before the narrative is set, is like a ghostly figure over the village, and his influence and story is hidden within plain sight. He is never properly physically described, nor do we properly hear him speak (apart from within flashback sequences) yet despite being dead, he is so present within the village conscious.

Timothy arrives at this village with his own issues. He has hopes and dreams of settling down and moving his wife away from the London rat-race, and in touching passages he can imagine himself through different social scenerios. However, this doesn’t happen. And Timothy is left constantly on the outside, yet being the most talked about man in the village.

The village dynamic is also very well written about. As I live on the Cornish coast, I know that there can be some animosity towards newcomers, yet this village certainly runs with it, and brings a Wickerman-esque feel to the narrative.

The novel has some interesting dream sequences, and moments of surrealism/magical realism, which reminds me of the writing styles of Alan Garner and Gabriel García Márquez. These sequences do have to be taken a face value, and towards the end of the novel, the world of the village and probably even Timothy’s own mental state does get a bit fractured, which just adds to the dynamic of the novel.

All in all, a great piece of literature. I’d thoroughly recommend it if you want to try a good read that will stick with you, yet isn’t too physically big.

The Many is out now!

Click here to buy the book.

Authors Website

Authors Twitter

Top 5 Books – Classic Literature.

 

Apologies for the lack of posting. My work has been hectic, and I’m taking a much deserved family holiday this week. A regular blogging schedule will resume soon.

To me, classic literature doesn’t mean it’s just old literature, but something that will echo for generations to come. Whether it be remarkably forward science fiction, or acts of romance that make people swoon, or just stories with morals, my top 5 list is my interpretation of literature that people should read in their lifetime.

gone_with_the_wind_cover

1: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

A personal favourite, this novel is grand and sweeping. A dazzling romance set in one of America’s most brutal and blood-thirsty periods, Gone with the Wind shows a civilisation and time that has now disappeared. It’s a tale of survival and new beginnings for one Southern Belle, who changes from being a pampered mistress to a fighter in the Deep South.

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2: 1984 by George Orwell

This novel is one I can read time over time over time again. An alternative yet familiar world, 1984 set the bar for dystopian literature. With forbidden romances, government control, cult leadership and surveillance taking over the world, 1984 is one of those novels that will broaden your mind forever, and make you realise that Big Brother really could be watching you.

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3: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Set in the sublime and wild Yorkshire Moors, Wuthuring Heights is a classic tale of revenge and obsession. With a multi-generational family, gothic overtones, physical and mental cruelty, Wuthering Heights tugs at the very extremes of nature vs nurture. A fantastic book.

hamlet

4: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Another tale of revenge, tragedy and ghostly happenings. Hamlet is a classic for its use and portrayal of madness and murder, and with famous soliloquies surrounding dreams, death and life, Hamlet also offers an insight into the human condition.

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5: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Another personal favourite, and subject of my dissertation. Dracula has set standards for the vampire novel, as well as being a staple in the gothic genre. The novel also focuses on Victorian ideas of masculinity, femininity, religion, science and invasion from foreign shores, and with a host of excellent characters and bone-chilling moments, you won’t forget Dracula in a hurry.

 

These are my top 5 choices for Classic Literature, and if you have any personal choices/opinions, don’t hesitate in letting me know.

 

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie! (2016) – Film Review

Title: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks

Director: Mandie Fletcher

Genres: Comedy, Fashion, British Comedy, Sitcom

Rating: 3/5


For the last few months, all that the British newspapers seem to have been reporting on is the EU Referendum, post-Brexit slump, horrific acts of terrorism, and football hooliganism. And quite rightly so. But in a climate where every newspaper seems to boom out doom-and-gloom news, it is no wonder that light-hearted comedy is needed. And with the release of the eagerly anticipated Absolutely Fabulous movie on July 1st, this could’ve been the breath of ridiculousness that we all needed.
As a fan of the original series (which aired before my birth), I was so excited when principle filming started, and when the trailer came out with all the glitz and silliness of a typical Ab Fab style, it promised to be exciting what we all hoped it to be – A feature length Patsy and Edie adventure. However, when I saw it, I’m not going to lie, I was slightly disappointed.3600
The movie starts off in typical Edie-and-Patsy montage of ridiculousness. After crashing a Giles Deacon show during Fashion Week, we see Patsy and Edie inadvertently walking down the runway, before crashing and pushing celebrities off the coveted front row. So already I was giggling, and this was before anything was said.

Edie and Patsy have declared that ’60 is the new 40’ but for Edie in particular, her life seems to be in a downward style. After losing out on a book deal for her memoirs, as well as rapidly dropping clients, Edie’s PR agency is rapidly losing out on money and public interest. However, it is revealed that Kate Moss (a.k.a ‘Her Skinniness’) is in desperate need for a PR Agent, and Edie jumps at the chance to represent her. However, at a party, Edie accidentally pushes Kate off a railing and into the Thames, never to be seen again.

Suddenly Edie is wanted for murder, and with a jail sentence looming, she and Patsy flee to the South of France to find a sugar daddy to help them fund their new life. The Absolutely Fabulous Movie is ultimately an adventure of silliness, ridiculous fashion featuring our favourite trainwrecks.

So what did I love about the movie? Well, the fashions were absolutely amazing. With the host of designer clothes, the wardrobe department of the movie have managed to pick the most outrageous and colourful for Edie and Patsy and transformed them into something that almost seems satirical towards the extremity of some designer labels. The premise of the story was also good. ‘Killing Kate Moss’ was always going to make for an intriguing storyline, and with Edie and Patsy jetsetting off to Cannes and the South of France, it screamed old-age glamour.absolutely_fabulous_0

I also loved all celebrity cameos. With Lulu and Emma Bunton still appearing to be long-suffering versions of themselves, Rebel Wilson playing the worst flight attendant in history and John Hamm revealing that Patsy took his virginity, the film was ridiculous in how many celebrities were cast and happy to play outlandish versions of themselves.

But what let me down for this film was the script. When watching it, it felt tired, stretched and, to me, was just a rehash and reminder of their original jokes that made television gold when they were initially released. There was very little new material, and for the brilliant comedic writing of Jennifer Saunders, I was disappointed. However, the chemistry and characters of Edie and Patsy never failed, and neither did the power duo of Saunders and Lumley. They kept the film going when it felt too dry, and it was wonderful to see them together again.

I did like how it revamped Absolutely Fabulous, and brought Edie and Patsy screaming and kicking into the world of Twitter, social media and hashtags, but there is always going to be difficulty when bringing British sitcoms to the big-screen, as they work so well as half-hour segments, rather than rambling two hour ones. However, it was wonderful to see our two favourite drunks again. It was Edie’s and Patsy’s last hurrah, and for a post-Brexit Britain, it was the hurrah we needed.

Overall, a lighthearted romp that will please fans of the original sitcom, but don’t expect it to be too groundbreaking.

The film is in cinemas now.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour at Plymouth Theatre Royal 2016) – Theatre Review

Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Cast: Lee Mead, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Michelle Collins, Shaun Williamson, Andy Hockley, Scott Paige, Sam Harrison, Ewen Cummins, Matt Gillet

Director: James Brining

Venue: Plymouth Theatre Royal/Touring Production.


Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen productions of West End shows being performed either in London or in local venues and, without fail,  I still get the jolt of excitement when I can come home with a glossy show programme. I love musical theatre, and enjoy spending my hard-earned money on tickets.'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tour

So when it was announced that the much-loved and highly-praised West End show of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! was touring around the UK, I knew I had to get tickets. Lucky for me, Chitty landed in Plymouth’s Theatre Royal for a week, so I took the day off from work, and equipped with a vast love for the songs and story, I sat in the theatre and watched as the fantasmagorical musical transported back to my childhood.

Adapted from Ian Fleming’s original story, and with award-winning lyrics from the Sherman Brothers, this musical really hit a soft spot for me. Ever since obsessively watching the film as a child, and wishing to be Truly Scrumptious, I knew that this production would definitely tug on the heartstrings.

Starring Lee Mead (Joseph and the Technicolour Dream coat and Casualty) along with Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Miserable and War of the Worlds) as Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious respectively, this power duo really had the voices and the on-stage chemistry to pull these characters off well. I particularly loved Carrie’s rendition of ‘Doll on a Music Box’, in which she had all the poise and voice of a real stage actress, and I must admit, I completely fell apart at Mead’s soulful version of ‘Hushabye Mountain’. The rest of the cast also took to their parts incredibly well. Slapstick duo of Sam Harrison and Scott Paige as the Vulgarian spies, Goran and Boris really had the best one-liners in the play, and provided a light and suitable relief, whilst Matt Gillet’s Childcatcher really sent chills up my spine. Ex-Eastenders stars Michelle Collins and Shaun Williamson also took the parts of Barone'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tourss and Baron Bomburst well, and did a rousing version of ‘Chu-Chi Face’.

The music and the choreography was also very diverse and fitting, with a particular highlight being Mead dancing in the ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’, I felt the dancing never took any shine or attention from the actors, but only enhanced the viewing pleasure.

But one thing that really made me go ‘Wow’ was the spectacular use of special effects designed by Simon Wainwright. The use of an actual car, along with the use of video screens was a stroke of genius, as we watched Chitty ‘fly’, ‘swim’ and ‘dive’ over Beachy Head. The video projections were also used well to illustrate the car’s original Grand Prix glory days, and gives us a good backstory into the car’s history.

This production really took my breath away for how beautifully it was directed. It was exciting, whimsical, sad at points, hilarious at others, and with a cast that really delivered on those famous songs, it is a family favourite show that any person of any age would enjoy to see.

I’d definitely recommend it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is still touring now. Links to available dates and venues are below.

Chitty The Musical.

 

Top 5 Books- Fantasy Sagas

Now, I’m a girl who loves a good fantasy series. Fantasy books and television series can transport you to new worlds, and through the characters you grow to love, or hate, you can witness political backstabbing, murders, battles and mythical beasts.

So, in this Top 5 post, I thought I’d give my favourite fantasy book sagas, for any readers who have yet to stumble upon this genre.

1: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin.a_song_of_ice_and_fire_by_ertacaltinoz-d9fzd8e

I’ve actually done a full review of this book saga on my blog, so I won’t go too in-depth here. So what I will say is this book saga is excellent and intricate. Wars, old grudges and bloodlust makes for very interesting reading, and the saga has been made into an award-winning television series. I would rate this a very obvious staple choice if you want to read any fantasy at the moment.

2: The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.

the_kingkiller_chronicle_one_and_twoWith two novels published in this soon-to-be trilogy, this saga is a favourite of mine. The story-telling is good, the plot is highly enjoyable and the fact of it being somewhat of a biography for the main character, a mysterious figure known as Kvothe, makes me love it more. I have read and reread this story, and I still find it as enjoyable as when I first picked it up. If you like high fantasy, excellent writing and a host of unique characters, I suggest this.

3: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.51sf-9svtul-_sx319_bo1204203200_

This is a book series you just have to read. And don’t be put off by the bad adaptation of the first book. His Dark Materials really transcend all age ranges and different audiences. Featuring alternative worlds, witches, polar bear warriors and battles with God and religion, this saga is not only brilliant at world-building, but the writing is easy enough for young teenagers to understand.

4: 200px-thewayofkingsThe Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson.

Once again, I’ve done a review on the first book here, but this series really deserves to be on this list. World-building in this series is done masterfully, and if you like battles, magic, different cultures and history, then you’d like this series. The characters are complex and well thought out, and I never felt bored when reading this ornate world.

5: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

I doubt there could be a fantasy book list without this saga. Written in the 1950s as a sequel to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings revolutionised the world olotr111f high fantasy and epic fantasy and has been influenced authors for years to come. The books are atypical of Tolkien’s florid and highly descriptive writing style, and follow the story of the destruction of the One Ring by the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins and his comrades.  So I would say, if you’re looking for the ultimate of ultimate fantasy novels to read, why not try this? You can’t be worse off. And then watch the movies.

So here are my top 5 choices. I doubt there are any shockers on here, but if you have any comments or queries, just send me a question.

 

 

Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company 2016 Production) – Theatre Review.

Title: Hamlet

Cast: Paapa Essiedu, Marcus Griffiths, Tanya Moodie, Cyril Nri, Natalie Simpson, Clarence Smith, Ewart James Walters, James Cooney, Bethan Cullinane.

Director: Simon Godwin

Venue: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon


As I’ve said before, being an English student has given me the opportunity to watch dozens of adaptations, performances, reimaginations and versions of William Shakespeare’s plays. Howevhamlet_production_photos_march_2016_2016_photo_by_manuel_harlan_c_rsc_187355-tmb-img-820er, when I had the privilege to watch the 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company’s production, I felt like I was watching something entirely new and entirely different.

Although still set nominally in Denmark, the play gives us something new and takes on a west African flavour. With cultural heritage and identity crisis at its core, Hamlet is first shown at his graduation ceremony oversees, but the death of his father makes him rush home to a country that he now feels completely lost in. And with the subsequent marriage of his mother to his father’s brother (later revealed his father’s power-hungry murderer), Hamlet is completely lost in the Danish court.

For the first time in RSC’s 55-year history, the titular character of Hamlet was given to a black actor. And what a marvel he has turned out to be. Paapa Essiedu shone with all the poise and calm of a seasoned actor, but with the young age of 25 and a baby-face to match, it is clear that this young man will become something of a success story in the coming years. When he spoke the immortal and well-loved soliloquy starting with ‘To be or not to be’, it was then we saw the once-suited and smart Prince turn into something new. We watch as tears roll down his face, his eyes half-closed and as though the words are tumbling from his mind. It is then we see Hamlet’s descent into madness and despair.

The cast were all beautifully selected, and fit in their respective roles well. We see Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude (portrayed by Tanya Moodie) fall from a dignified and regal queen, into a shell-shocked mess, and Natalie Simpson’s Ophelia is sweet, suitably sassy and cocky in the first half, but distressingly unhinged towards the end. Edward James Walters also gave a chilling performance as the Ghost, as he rose in a mist of dry ice and traditional African costume, and Clarence Smith’s Claudius was sleek and well mannered. However, one of my personal favourite’s was definitely the portrayal of Polonius. Cyril Nr'Hamlet' Play directed by Simon Godwin performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, UKi has given Polonius a new breath of life, by making him somewhat of a court jester, as well as a scatty and fussy parent.

With Hamlet, so much has been done with it in the past, it may have been challenging to breath new life into this timeless play. However, with a thrilling soundtrack of drums, limb-jerking dancing and graffiti, Simon Godwin’s Hamlet is visceral, raw and gives us a rising star who doesn’t so much as shine but blaze as our mercurial Dane.

Hamlet is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon until August 13th. Book now, or see it live at participating cinemas. Visit The Royal Shakespeare Company website for dates.