Musical Moodboards / Shrek

Hello!Musical MoodboardsWhen I first heard that my school’s spring musical would be Shrek, I was less than thrilled. The show’s humor didn’t excite me, the makeup and costume design worried me, and the casting and set design both had me baffled. I wasn’t alone in my hesitant reactions; cast and crew members alike wondered if we could pull this show off! Despite our initial fears, Shrek was a joy to work on and watch, and I’m delighted I was able to stage manage such a strong production. I have finally recovered from my tiring tech rehearsals and weekend of performances, giving me the time to put together a musical moodboard for the show. This feature is a favorite of mine, and my archive of past moodboards is growing by the month – you can see them all HERE if you’d like!

Shrek Musical MoodboardSources: Fiona Illustration / Dragon Picture / Woods and Cabin Print / Fairy Tale Characters Drawing / Freak Flag Print / {FYI: I tried my best to provide you with the most accurate and updated sources, but please let me know of any problems or mistakes!}

Since the musical’s debut on Broadway in 2008, Shrek the Musical has been praised for its book, leads, and costume design, and it continues to tour today throughout the UK. I was surprised at how fun of a show it is, a point emphasized when the company encourages the audience to sing along in the final number, “I’m a Believer.”

Shrek, as both a film and a musical, dismisses the “traditional” fairy tale in favor of a fractured love story. I took a similar approach to this collection, looking for a combination of modern and classic images. Playful, cartoon-like illustrations of Fiona and the dragon reference two of the show’s main characters, while the forest pattern is a creative homage to Shrek’s home in the swamp. The leads carry the show, but this musical also requires a large ensemble, explaining the line drawing of fairy tale characters. Finally, one of the biggest numbers of the production is “Freak Flag,” in which Pinocchio, Gingie, and the like sing of their weird traits, so a lyric print was the finishing touch.

Let’s discuss! Have you seen Shrek the Musical? Are you a fan of the movies or holiday shorts? I haven’t watched the films in a few years, but after that intense of a tech week, I’m not sure if I’m ready to revisit them quite yet :)

Have an amazing Wednesday!

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Top Ten Books in My Beach Bag

Hello!

Top Ten TuesdayWith June just around the corner, summer – summer vacation, to be specific – is on my mind, so this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt couldn’t be better timed. As in years past, I’ve rounded up ten books that are perfect for summer reading or, as the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish put it, the novels I plan to have in my beach bag this summer. I’m not a frequent beach-goer, but I do love a good “beach read,” a novel that is light, romantic, and relatively short. These ten books seem to match the qualifications, and I can’t wait to grab copies of them all throughout June, July, and August. For added fun {I’m not one to turn down online shopping}, I’ve matched the cover of each novel with a beach bag – you’ll need a chic tote to carry your books around during the summer! :)

A few notes, before we begin. I try not to repeat books in these TBR round-ups, so several novels {Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You, anyone?} are not on this particular list. And, as always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Stop by, take a peek, and link up yourself HERE!

Saint AnythingSarah Dessen, as any regular YA reader can tell you, is a queen of the market, writing bestseller after bestseller. Her previous books have offered fresh characters, summer settings, and swoon-worthy relationships, and I expect nothing less with her latest novel, Saint Anything. Die-hard Dessen fans seem pleased, as I hope I will be as well! {bag}

Happy AgainThe number of contemporary novels I’ve read is forever growing, but I still keep my all-time favorites close to my heart. I’ve praised Jennifer E. Smith’s book This is What Happy Looks Like countless times, and I couldn’t be more excited to “catch up “ with Ellie and Graham in the short story, Happy Again. I will need to pack my Kindle when I head on vacation! {bag}

The Fill-in BoyfriendI devoured Pivot Point and Split Second in mere days, and I now happily declare myself a Kasie West fan. Although I know her only by her fantasy/science-fiction work, West has written plenty of cute contemporaries for me to finally read this summer. First on my list? Her newest release, The Fill-In Boyfriend, where a girl asks someone to fill in as her prom date. I suspect hilarity ensues. {bag}

Amy and Roger's Epic DetourI have been slacking on my Re-Read Challenge progress; I have only one of twelve books down! My hope is to return to a few novels this summer, such as Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. I have recommended this book time after time, but it has been years since I have revisited Matson’s debut myself. That’s a problem I am determined to fix. {bag}

My Life Next DoorIf there’s one novel I’m sad to have not read yet, it’s My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Frequently appearing on Top Ten posts, this contemporary romance has been on my TBR list since its 2012 release. If all goes well {as I’m sure it will}, I will be checking out the sequel, The Boy Most Likely To, in August. {bag}

Three Day SummerMusic festivals scream summer to me, as does the bright and colorful cover of Three Day Summer! Set at Woodstock in the summer of 1969, Sarvenaz Tash’s book is a winning combination of romance and music. Although the novel has flown under the radar since its release last week, I have my fingers crossed I can snag a copy at my local library. {bag}

Sophomore Year is Greek to MeWhen I picked up Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin, I was excited for a light-hearted read set in Greece – little did I know that it was a companion novel to her book, Freshman Year & Other Natural Disasters! Fortunately, reviewers have promised that these two books can stand alone; I think, however, it gives me perfect reason to try out both novels. {bag}

The Summer of Chasing MermaidsSarah Ockler is a well-known name in the young adult industry, but I haven’t yet found the chance to read one of her novels! Here’s hoping her latest release, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, is the first of many of my Ockler reads. It’s already winning in my book for the diverse characters and creative retelling of The Little Mermaid. {bag}

Hello, I Love YouTraveling is an essential part of summer, but when day trips and small vacations don’t suffice, books are a wonderful second resource. Katie M. Stout’s debut, Hello, I Love You, is set in Korea and follows a romance between American boarding school student Grace and KPOP superstar, Jason. Early reviews have not put it in the best light, but I like to read with an open mind! :) {bag}

Proof of ForeverFinally, a story with time travel, summers at camp, and former best friends? I’m most definitely in. Told from four different perspectives, Proof of Forever looks like and adorable and quick read by a YA-newbie, Lexa Hillyer. Beach reading at its best, I think. {bag}

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
Bella

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The Truth Commission: A Book Review

Hello!

The Truth CommissionTitle: The Truth Commission

Author: Susan Juby
Published: April 14th, 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult / Realistic Fiction
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: Nope!

Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear. They are the Truth Commission.

Then, one of their truth targets says to Normandy: “If you want to know about the truth, you might want to look a little closer to home.” And that means facing Keira, Normandy’s brilliant older sister, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence.

Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed.

This dryly funny, knife-sharp novel, written as “narrative nonfiction” by Normandy herself, features footnotes, illustrations, and a combination mystery/love story that will capture readers from the first page. {Goodreads}

While it is not always as prominent of an element, setting is just as important to a novel as the characters and the plot. Setting can transform a story, and the right environment should linger with the reader long after they have finished the book. Popular bestsellers offer a number of prime examples, from the wizardry school Hogwarts to the dystopian nation of Panem, but memorable settings in contemporary fiction are less frequent of an occurrence. Susan Juby’s newest piece of realistic fiction, however, is set against a backdrop that’s one to remember and even harder to forget. Told in “narrative nonfiction,” The Truth Commission follows its characters in their search for truth at their quirky art school, Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. It’s clever, it’s humorous, and it’s thoughtful; if anything, Juby’s novel is worth picking up for a trip to Green Pastures alone.

The students at Green Pastures must each complete a final project for the year; Normandy Pale, The Truth Commission’s narrator and protagonist, decides to exercise her writing skills in a narrative nonfiction piece about her older sister, Keira, and her disappearance. This unique structure not only captures the reader’s attention, but also frames the story in an interesting and impactful way. It could have easily gone wrong were it not for Normandy’s vivid and distinct narration, complete with entertaining footnotes and illustrations, that invites the reader into her dysfunctional family life. Furthermore, Normandy’s situation may not be common among “typical teens,” but she captures the struggles of adolescence all the same.

Normandy is not the only complex and artistic character of the novel. Her friends lead rather creative lives; Dusk is known for her work in taxidermy and dioramas, while Neil is a portrait artist of beautiful women. Their unusual hobbies aside, Dusk and Neil demonstrate the meaning of friendship. All three – Normandy, Dusk, and Neil – make mistakes as they uncover the truth, but they realize that having each other’s back comes before having the right answer. Normandy’s family is less of an inspiration, but they too illustrate the significance of trust in a relationship. Juby presents two extremes with Normandy’s friends and family: those that look for honesty and those who run from it.

Like another one of my recent reads, I was surprised, though not disappointed, in the book’s storyline. The synopsis does little to reveal the plot of the novel, so readers discover the facts of Keira’s life on the same timeline, so to speak, as Normandy. There’s no doubt that The Truth Commission is strange, but Juby never loses her story’s plausibility. It can border the line of unrealistic {I, for one, couldn’t believe grown adults would act so clueless}, but it also presents situations that are, sadly, all too true. Keira, for example, pulls events from her own family’s life and uses them in her bestselling graphic novels without permission, an action that forces readers to ponder truth in the creative setting.

We, as a society, like to shy from the truth. We can hide behind screens, keep secrets more easily, or as in Normandy’s case, warp reality to fit our artistic needs. We may wonder if this is right, but perhaps, the question we need to ask is, “Is this always wrong?” It would be nice to have an answer, but Juby’s novel reminds us that truth can be messy, that real life can be messy. The Truth Commission is seemingly light, but the themes and questions it presents are far more than your average “beach read.” I highly recommend it; Green Pasture and its students are a delight from beginning to end.

Need more convincing? Here’s what other reviewers had to say.
“This book had a little bit of everything which I loved. Mystery, humor, romance, family drama, and personal issues to resolve. It was great, and it was very well-rounded” {read the rest of the review at Jenn Renee Read HERE}.

“Overall, I love this novel. The narrative nonfiction style is unusual and fresh and works so well here. It took a few chapters for me to get Norm’s voice and her use of footnotes, but it all settles out for a fantastic read” {read the rest of the review at Fab Book Reviews HERE}.

“The fact that I’d read and enjoyed a prior Juby novel ages ago {Home to Woefield} swayed me to look deeper. This, friends, was a good choice. Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission is a funny, wry, and thought-provoking look at truth, family, and art school” {read the rest of the review at A Reader of Fictions HERE}.

Have a wonderful start to your week and a happy Memorial Day for my American readers! :)

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loving >> week 155

Hello!

The Love ListHappy Friday! Here’s what I’m loving…

Pitch Perfect 21 ♥ Pitch Perfect 2 I’ll admit: when I first went to see Pitch Perfect a few years ago, I expected nothing more than a light, if forgettable, musical comedy. Though I entered the movie theater with low expectations, I exited the movie theater a new fan – and I clearly wasn’t the only one! Since then, I have eagerly been awaiting the return of the Barden Bellas in the film’s sequel Pitch Perfect 2, which was finally released last weekend. Pitch Perfect alum, like Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Britney Snow, are joined by new additions, Hailee Steinfeld and Chrissie Fit, as the cast of characters enter an international a cappella competition. It the reviews are correct, it’s just as entertaining as its predecessor, so I’m super excited to watch it myself. Have you seen or plan to see Pitch Perfect 2?

Brimfield{via}

2 ♥ Brimfield My family and I have often talked about going to Brimfield, the largest antiques show in New England, but it wasn’t until last weekend that we finally had the chance to check it out! While my knowledge of antiques is limited to my watching of Market Warriors, we made a fun afternoon of strolling the antique fields and buying scoops of ice cream. The May segment ended on Sunday, but if you still have interest and can make the trip, Brimfield shows are also in July and August. It’s the perfect day trip for antiques novices and experts alike!

Mosquitoland3 ♥ Mosquitoland Just as there are so many books I want to read, I usually have a long list of books I want to review too! Between school and other commitments, however, sometimes even the best of novels don’t receive the attention I wish I could give them. For example? David Arnold’s debut, Mosquitoland, a book I read back in March, but am only thinking now to mention. It received plenty of praise and press – all of it well-deserved – when it was first published, so if you haven’t checked it out or added it to your TBR list yet, there’s no time like the present. I really enjoyed it, as I have no doubt you will too! 

MasterChef4 ♥ MasterChef The summer season of television has begun, starting with Wednesday’s premiere of MasterChef! I have long been a fan of this cooking competition show, so I was ready to watch the new season with the latest addition to the judging panel, Christina Tosi. So far, so good, I believe: it’s a strong line-up of home cooks with varying {and entertaining} personalities. Once So You Think You Can Dance begins, my summer show schedule will be complete! :) If anything, these reality programs are welcome distractions in the final weeks of the school year.

Long Weekend{via}

5 ♥ The Long Weekend Finally, even with a few weeks left of school, I like to think that Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer! I’m looking forward to having an extra day to sleep in, read a few books {I have The Winner’s Crime and The Start of Me and You on my nightstand}, and wrap up a few blogging posts and projects. Long weekends can brighten up even the busiest of Fridays! Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Have a wonderful day!

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Pros & Cons / Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Hi!

Pros and ConsDespite my best efforts, it can be hard to avoid the “hype monster.” Goodreads, Twitter, and book blogs are all frequent sources for early reviews, and I’m regularly reading up on new novels to add to my TBR list. Bone Gap, a recent young adult release from Laura Ruby, was a much different case. I started it knowing only the information from the synopsis, and I had little expectation, much less an idea, of what was in store. Upon finishing? I was captivated, refreshed {I believe reading “blind” is the cure for a reading slump}, and most importantly, in love. I share my full thoughts below!

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps — gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures — acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness — a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are. {Goodreads}

Slide19Need more convincing? Here’s what other reviewers had to say.
“Overall, Bone Gap was a great read with quirky characters and weird elements… The story can definitely be interpreted in different ways, though, which makes this book even better. I highly recommend reading this one if you’re up for something weird and interesting” {read the rest of the review at Reading is My Treasure HERE}.

Bone Gap is a book about perspective. About the difference between looking and seeing. About fairytales, self-image, the heavy burden that beauty can be and the pernicious ways we look at and treat women. It’s awfully tense and there is this feeling of anxious momentum that runs through this novel. It’s also very romantic where it matters, empowering where it counts and beautiful in its telling” {read the rest of the review at The Book Smugglers HERE}.

“I adored Bone Gap. That’s a testament both to Ruby’s beautifully lyrical prose and her world-building; at its heart, Bone Gap is a novel about the limits of our perception, and the vague, disorienting setting perfectly encapsulated the essence of Finn and Roza’s story” {read the rest of the review at Melinda Belle Harrison HERE}.

Let’s discuss! Have you read Bone Gap yet? Do you have any other strong stories of magical realism to recommend? We’re almost at the halfway point of 2015, which means I’ll be listing my favorite reads of the year so far quite soon {Hint: Bone Gap will be making an appearance :)}.

Have a wonderful day!
Bella

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