The Magician's Land | Lev Grossman | Review

Friday, 24 February 2017




Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.


No longer living in the land he loves, Quentin heads back to Brakebills to where it all began. There he works as a professor, until one day he's thrown into yet another adventure. This time he's taken back to places he visited in his younger days, and he's reminded of those loved ones he's lost, those he's left behind.

Back in Fillory, the remaining kings and queens have their own quests. Fillory is dying, and they have to save it. Coming at it from both sides, Quentin and his have to find a way to save the land the love, even if that means giving up everything.

While the first book is mainly from Quentin's perspective, and the second adds in Julia's, The Magician's Land brings in the thoughts and perspective from Eliot, Quentin's school friend and High King of Fillory. While Eliot is the intelligent one, the immature one, the crazy one, he still loves his land, and he and the others left in Fillory work hard to fix it. It was fun reading from Eliot's perspective, as he's a character that I enjoyed in the series. 

The creatures in this book (and series) are so creative, and yet so simple at times. Grossman's writing and creativity shines through and it makes for an exciting and vivid read.

This final book is a lot shorter than the first two in the series, but it's still packed with great characters, plot twists, adventures and creativity. I thought it was a brilliant way to end a fantastic series, and while I will miss reading about Quentin and Fillory, it was a joy to read.

If you're after a series about magic, about friendship, about love and loss, about creating your own way in the world (or in another), or you just love a good fantasy story, pick up the first in this series, The Magicians, and have a read.

You can read my review on BB of the first in this series, The Magicians, here,  and the second in this series, The Magician King, here. 

Image from Goodreads. 

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) | Ainslie Hogarth | Review

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

book2 *Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is a dark story told through the diary entries of a girl named Noelle who takes on a summer job working at an inn that was the site of some truly terrible murders back in the 90’s. At the beginning of the book we learn that Noelle and several others were found dead at the inn following a party held to commemorate the murders and Noelle’s cryptic diary is the only real evidence left behind. Now a filmmaker is keen to bring the story to the big screen with a Horror movie adaptation, and the detective who brought the diary to his attention has gone missing adding another layer of mystery to the story.

This YA novel is an incredibly unique read with the diary format and addition of annotations and directorial notes about the potential movie adaptation. Personally I loved this idea and enjoyed the extra layer the annotations brought to the story. Unfortunately the format did not always translate successfully in the electronic uncorrected proof copy I read however I believe it would definitely have worked better in the print version.

The book is packed full of mysterious and gory scenes with hints of the paranormal and also touches upon Noelle’s home life and relationship with her father. Whilst I really liked the unusual concept of the book I found that I didn’t connect with Noelle and because of this couldn’t fully enjoy reading the story from her point of view.

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is a unique, intense and quick read packed with gory scenes and an intriguing mystery element. Unfortunately overall the book just wasn’t for me, but if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind read and don’t mind a little gore you may enjoy this one.

The Invisible Library | Genevieve Cogman | Review

Monday, 20 February 2017


Summary:

Irene is a Librarian, but not for just any library. The Library she works for is actually another dimension that has access to many, many others. When a specific book or iteration of a work is found, the Librarians are sent to the dimension to recover it. Sometimes Librarians are left in these dimensions as watchers, people who keep tabs on a world for when another Librarian is sent in search of a book. For this case, Irene is sent with an apprentice, Kai, to a world where chaos is a lot more prevalent than she would like. Naturally, something goes very, very wrong.

Review:

This was a genuinely delightful read. The world alone is completely fascinating to me. The notion of the Library as kind of an axis dimension where all others are in contact with it. The idea of Librarians protecting rare books and using a rare magic called The Language. Dragons being creatures of pure law and order. Fae being creatures of pure chaos. Magic combined with technology and steampunk. There was nothing about this world that I did not absolutely love!

The inclusion of the chaos made the world so much more fun, too. Just some of the very random elements that came into play would make me laugh out loud. Sometimes it was delightful absurdity, other times it was genuine "what the heck am I reading" laughter. Who could have predicted that one of the detective's enemies would have attacked him with a giant robotic centipede? 

There was one scene in the book that completely derailed the story for me. I won't get into too many details but it was Irene and Kai's first full night after things went so very wrong. Suffice it to say, the dialogue, the situation, just the entire scene felt really out of place and awkward and I was tempted to put the book down at that point. Still, I am glad I continued as the rest of the book was on track and interesting.

If you are at all interested in worlds with chaos, magic, steampunk, technology, mystery, dragons, fae, evil villains and, of course, lots and lots of books, I highly recommend The Invisible Library. It has a stumbling spot or two, but is ultimately a fun read. 

Group Collaboration | Guilty Pleasure Reads

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Earlier this month we asked our team of bloggers and readers to anonymously tell us all about their favourite titles that fit the description of "guilty pleasure" reads. Here are the results...

guilty pleasure

Something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard. - source

guilty pleasure reads 2
guilty pleasure reads 4
guilty pleasure reads 3
guilty pleasure reads 1

For more guilty pleasure reads check out these posts from around the web:

In March we'll be talking Favourite Female Authors! If you'd like to be involved with this and future group posts drop an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter page for updates!

Features | Spring Releases 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017


The sun is shining! Or at least, it is where I am, as I'm writing this. It will probably be raining again by the time this posts but that is not the point! The point is that spring will be here soon and the horrible drudgery of winter will be over for another year! (It's possible I am being a little dramatic but I am just so done with winter.) The sudden burst of sunshine is making me think ahead to spring with great anticipation not just for the warmer weather but also, of course, for all the new books that will be coming out then. Here are the six I'm most looking forward to.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera - 21st February

After "borrowing" her father's credit card, Margot has to work in her family's grocery store to pay back her debts and she's willing to do anything to stop this punishment from ruining her reputation.
The Education of Margot Sanchez is described as 'Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx'. I'm actually not much of a fan of Pretty in Pink but this sounds like an interesting contemporary read and there's nothing I love more than that. Plus I've never read a novel set in the South Bronx and after watching the Netflix series The Get Down last year I am very interested in changing that.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han - 4th April

The third and final book in Jenny Han's series that started with To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Always and Forever, Lara Jean follows Lara Jean into her senior year of high school. Her father is getting married and now Lara Jean is the one who has to face the prospect of going away to college and leaving her family behind.
I devoured the first two novels in this series last summer and was so excited when Jenny Han announced this surprise third instalment. This series is a lot of fun and I can't wait to visit Lara Jean and her family again.

The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik - 6th April

The Other Half of Happiness is the sequel to Ayisha Malik's first novel, Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged and I actually am not going to tell you what this one is about because I don't think I can without spoiling the first book and the first book is excellent. Read Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged first and then join me in being very excited for this continuation of Sofia's story.

Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe - 6th April

Paradise Lodge, the follow up to Man at the Helm (both books feature the same protagonist but there's a 6 year gap between the two and they can be read as standalones), is the story of Lizzie Vogel, a 15 year old girl who gets a job at an old people's home in the 1970s because it seems a less exhausting option than becoming a punk or a full-time girlfriend.
Paradise Lodge actually came out last year so I'm cheating a little but the paperback comes out in April and I've been waiting for the paperback so it will sit nicely on the shelf with my copy of Man at the Helm. Nina Stibbe's writing is always sharp and hilarious and I'm really looking forward to reading her voice again.

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill - 20th April

Aurabel takes us back to the world of Laura Dockrill's Lorali. Two years after the events of the first book, we return to Lorali's story but also meet a new mermaid called Aurabel, who has a mechanical tail and a heart set on revenge.
Another sequel, I know, but Laura Dockrill's first book in this series Lorali was such a fun and unique read and I can't wait to read about Aurabel, the steampunk mermaid! If you haven't read Lorali yet I highly recommend it. I promise it is unlike any book you've read before. Unless you happen to have read a lot of books with chapters narrated by the sea.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 30th May

Dimple Shah is not on board with her parents desire to arrange her marriage so she's relieved when they agree to pay for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers because that must mean they respect her wishes on some level. Rishi Patel, on the other hand, is completely on board with his parents arranging his marriage and he happens to be attending the same summer program as the girl his parents want him to marry: Dimple.
When Dimple Met Rishi just sounds like so much fun. It's a story I've never read before and I've already seen some very positive reviews. Plus, and this is purely superficial, I love iced coffee more than I can say and that iced coffee on the front cover of this book looks delicious and I can't wait to read this book with a similar iced coffee in my other hand. I'm so excited.

What books are you looking forward to in spring? Will you be reading any of these? How do you feel about iced coffee? Let me know in the comments!