where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.



Friday, 19 October 2018

Features | Re-reading Via Audio Books

Recently I've discovered that my library has access to Overdrive, which is an eBook and audio book borrowing system. In the past, I haven't really listened to many audio books (just the odd one here and there, including an excellent dramatised version of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman) but these past few months I've been really enjoying listening to them at work if I'm doing a job that doesn't require much brain work. Having access to the Auckland Library Overdrive books has been amazing and if you haven't discovered it yet, then check out your local library website and see if they use it.

Anastasia has talked about her thoughts on audio books before (and you can find her feature post here), and I agree with her when she talks about not knowing what to do while you're listening, or zoning out and missing the story. I totally struggle with the same issues, and find that I don't really enjoy a lot of audio books I listen to if I don't know the story.

However! What I have discovered this year is that I love audio books for re-reading. There have been books I've read over the years that I have added to my 'must re-read these books' list, but haven't got around to them because of increasing amount of new books that come into our lives every week. I've discovered so many of the books I want to re-read on Overdrive, that that's exactly what I've been doing.

I'm learning that because I know the story already, it's much more enjoyable to listen to an audio book version and not lose track of what's happening. If I don't pause it in time to answer a question from someone and miss a few seconds, or if I zone out or have to use my brain for a few minutes, it's no big deal and I don't have to go back and find my spot, because I know what's happening.

This year I really wanted to try and re-read some of my favourite books, and so while I actually haven't done that physically, I've re-read four books via audio.

If you're not into audio books for the reasons both Anastasia and I have talked about, why not have a go at listening to one you already know? Check out our 2015 group post on the topic to see what some of the team and our readers think about audio books.

If you're an avid audio book listener, do you re-read books by listening to them, or just stick to ones you haven't read yet? 
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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Features | 4 Short Story Collections To Add To Your TBR

miss x shirley jackson short stories blogger's bookshelf

The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night, Jen Campbell (2017)

If you're looking for a collection of unusual and thought-provoking tales Jen Campbell's latest release is definitely the one for you. Each story has a mysterious, enchanting feel to it and you can guarantee many of them will stick with you for a long time afterwards. You can catch Anastasia's full review right here on BB.

Top picks: Aunt Libby's Coffin Hotel, Animals, Human Satellites

The Moth, Catherine Burns (2013) 

If non-fiction is more your thing you'll love this collection edited by Catherine Burns which includes fifty true stories transcribed from the organisation's live storytelling events. The book's cover promises 'extraordinary true stories' and it certainly delivers. The stories range from heartwarming and inspiring to heartbreaking and each storyteller has something truly unique to share.

Top picks: Angel, A Dish Best Served Cold, Life After Death

The Missing Girl, Shirley Jackson (2018)

I've been known to enjoy a Shirley Jackson tale or two and this trio of short stories published as part of the Penguin Modern Classics collection includes some of my favourites. True to her usual style the stories aren't necessarily 'scary' but each have an unnerving feel to them. As there are only three stories in the book I don't have a top picks list, however I would have to say Miss X, which reads like an episode of Black Mirror, is the one that has really stuck with me.

Tales Of The Peculiar, Ransom Riggs (2016)

My final suggestion is our first ever BB book club read Tales Of The Peculiar, a selection of YA stories all set in the Peculiar world. This collection has some serious quirky fairytale vibes and can at times get pretty dark. The beautifully penned short stories are accompanied by equally beautiful woodcut engraving illustrations by Andrew Davidson.

Top picks: The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares, The First Ymbryne, The Splendid Cannibals

What are your favourite short story collections?

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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our October Book Club Pick/s!

about a boy dash and lily book club bloggers bookshelf

Have you read either of our October book club titles yet? If so don't forget to share your thoughts, opinions and reviews with us to be featured in our next roundup.

There's just under a week left to complete our Google form or alternatively tweet or Instagram your photos and favourite quotes from the books using the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub.

If you haven't had time to read this month's books don't worry, check back on 22nd October to find out what Anjali has chosen for November!

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Friday, 12 October 2018

Features | Quick Reads For Rainy Days

In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a rainy day than under a blanket with a cup of tea and a good book, and all the better if you can snuggle down and read one from start to finish without having to sacrifice your cosiness by getting up too often. So, to encourage you all to spend a rainy day or two doing just that, here are five books that can easily be read in one day with only minimal stops for food.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The movie adaptation of Stardust is one of my favourite films to watch on a rainy day, and although the book on which it was based is certainly different to the film, that doesn't make it any less fun. Gaiman's story of a young man called Tristan on a quest to retrieve a fallen star to prove his love is truly the closest thing I've ever read to a fairy tale for grownups, full of adventure and magic in equal measure. Stardust is the perfect fantasy world to escape to when the weather in our world is a bit too dreary.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

John Green's latest book is a lot quieter and more introspective than his previous works but, in my opinion, it is also his most absorbing book to date. Following Aza, a teenage girl living with OCD and anxiety, as a local mystery brings her back into contact with an old friend, Turtles All the Way Down is an intense read but ultimately a hopeful one, and, if you're anything like me, it will leave you with an overwhelming desire to hang out with Aza and her best friend, Daisy.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

There are few things I find more comforting than a nice romantic comedy and, although it certainly has its fair share of drama, I would still class Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda in that category. Simon Spier, a gay teenager not yet out, who finds himself being blackmailed over an email flirtation with an anonymous classmate, is one of the most endearing protagonists I have ever come across, and I would definitely suggest that he is someone you set aside an entire day to spend time with.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

If you haven't quite got an entire day to set aside, but maybe you could manage an afternoon, Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell might be a more appropriate choice. Almost Midnight is a tiny little book, a collection of just two short stories, both of which have been published before but not with such a sparkly cover or such beautiful illustrations. The first story, 'Midnights' is set over multiple New Year's Eve parties, and the second, 'Kindred Spirits' takes place in the lead up to a midnight showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Both are all kinds of adorable.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Finally, a graphic novel full of fun and adventure. Nimona follows a supervillain and his sidekick, the titular Nimona, on their mission to prove that the good guys aren't so good, and maybe cause some mayhem along the way. Stevenson's illustrations are full of colour, a delight to look at, and the story is one that will keep you turning the page until the very end, at which point you'll probably wish there was more. Nimona is a sure fire way to cheer up a cloudy day.
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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Carry On | Rainbow Rowell | Review

I'm not going to lie, I was didn't think I would like this book. I knew going into it that people have compared it to Harry Potter fanfiction and my head just wasn't going to let that go. But it was Rainbow Rowell, and seeing as Anjali had recommended it and she's a big a Potterhead as me I thought I'd give it a try.

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

I won't lie to you, I went into this comparing every little character to a Harry Potter character and I wasn't the biggest fan. I didn't like how they had to say random phrases to make things happen, I understand Harry Potter spells are sort of random phrases but like different nursery rhymes would do certain things. It just sounds a bit rubbish compared to a snazzy word, imagine trying to have a serious duel and you had to say Mary Had A Little Lamb or something.

Another thing that confused me was the fact they were always going on about how some smaller spells were a waste of magic. The further I got through the book I realised this was because they didn't have unlimited magic, that using magic was like using energy and doing constant magic would make you exhausted. Again, definitely too into my mindset of Harry Potter.

However, once I got used to Simon as a character and wasn't constantly comparing everything to Harry Potter I did enjoy it more. Once the plotline thickened and I'd figured out whether Simon and Baz hated each other or loved each other I started to get into it. I'd gone into the book thinking Simon and Baz were a couple so you'd understand why I was slightly confused at their hatred for each other.

Although, while the storyline was great and I did enjoy it I did feel like this wasn't the first book. So many conversations touched on previous incidents and storylines that felt like I'd started reading the third and last book in a trilogy before reading the first two. This is just being picky though, I did really like it. Enough for a 3 1/2 - 4 stars worth anyway.

Have you read it yet? Did you enjoy it? 

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Features | The Curse of the Reading Slump

It’s finally happened. I have fallen victim to another reading slump. It’s been months since my last one which is just long enough ago that I had almost forgotten how bad they can be. I had settled into a pattern of 1-2 books a week and was confident that I could maintain it for the rest of the year.

Too confident, arguably. If you’ve been following my reading updates on #TNGreads, you will have noticed that I have slowed right down when it comes to how much I’ve been reading. I’ve been loving the books I have been reading but I just never seem to get around to picking them up and actually doing some reading. There are plenty of reasons for this, which I won’t share right now, but the simple fact is that I have found myself in a reading slump.

I’m hoping that I will see the other side of it soon but in the meantime, here are my tactics for coping with a reading slump:
  • .      . Take the pressure off. For the longest time, I beat myself up about not reading. As a blogger who talks a lot about books, I felt like I was doing something bad by not racing through endless books every month. This isn’t true. The world hasn’t stopped spinning just because I haven’t been reading and I am more than entitled to a break!
  • .       Try something else. It could be a new genre or a new author but sometimes a little variety can be enough to reignite your spark for reading. If that means DNFing a book, so be it.
  • .       Make reading manageable. When I’m in a reading slump, I find myself turning to poems and short stories. They’re just so much more approachable than a novel and I can get the sense of satisfaction of finishing something even if I don’t have the time to read 500 pages.

What are your tips for surviving a reading slump?


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