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.


Saturday, 4 July 2020

Features | June Reads

Having initially struggled with concentrating on books during the earlier days of lockdown, June unexpectedly saw me overcoming this and reading more books than any other month of the year so far.

The first book I wanted to talk about this month is Parachutes (Kelly Yang), a contemporary YA novel about teenagers Claire and Dani. Claire is a ‘parachute’, meaning that she has been sent to live and study in California whilst her parents remain at home in Shanghai. I decided to pick up this recent release as it sounded really interesting and I was so absorbed in the story that I ended up bingeing the audiobook over just one weekend. Whilst I really enjoyed the book, I wasn’t quite prepared for how heartbreaking parts of the story were going to be. Alongside themes of identity, wealth and friendship the book also tackles the topics of sexual harassment and assault, with the author’s note at the end of the novel revealing how her own experiences led her to tell this story. I can see Parachutes being very popular within the book blogging community and would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR.

Another audiobook I would highly recommend is the BBC dramatisation of Maya Angelou’s autobiographical title I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I haven’t yet read the full novel (although I do plan to do so), so I can’t speak for how this dramatisation compares, but I thought it was a great production of a powerful story. It’s only around one hour long and it’s certainly worth taking the time to listen to. I managed to get hold of the audiobook through my local library, but at the time of writing this post it is also now available over on the BBC website

I had been planning to pick up a Zadie Smith novel this year after hearing such good things about her writing, so when I noticed her short story collection Grand Union on my library app, I thought it would be the perfect introduction to her work. The book includes a varied and intriguing selection of 19 stories and it was unlike any other short story collection I’ve read. Based on this title, I’m looking forward to picking up one of Smith’s full length novels. I’m not too sure where to start, so if you have a favourite, or one you think I should read first, please leave a comment and let me know. 

Also over on my library app, I managed to get hold of a copy of Station Eleven author Emily St John Mandel’s latest release The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book and it’s difficult to explain the plot, but similarly to with Station Eleven I found that I really enjoyed how St John Mandel connected together the different character’s stories whilst taking the reader on a journey. Another one to add to your summer TBRs!

Similarly, I also really enjoyed Shadow Girl (Liana Liu), a YA novel that's part ghost story, part teen drama and certainly wasn’t what I was expecting! When the opportunity arises for Mei to work as an academic tutor to eight year old Ella, she jumps at the chance to earn some extra money during her summer break. Mei is invited to the family’s summer home, a dream property on the beautiful Arrow Island where she even has her very own room for the first time in her life, but can things really be as perfect as they seem? I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about this 2017 release but I’m really glad I picked it up this month (especially as it had been sitting on my shelf for almost two years!).

I couldn’t let this month’s roundup go by without including a little bit about The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes (Suzanne Collins), the highly anticipated new edition to the Hunger Games series. Like many other fans of the original trilogy, I was curious to find out how this story would connect to Katniss’ and what else we would learn about the history of the Hunger Games. Whilst I didn’t dislike the book, for me it just didn’t pack the punch that the first two books in the series did. Without going into any spoilers, I didn't feel much of a connection to any of the characters but the parts of the novel I liked most were those that explained a little bit more about how things we saw in the original trilogy, such as sponsors, came to be.
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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Book Club | July 2020 - A Book With A Map

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For our 2020 BB Book Club, we've put together another printable list of twelve different prompts, one for each month of the year. Just as we did in 2019, on the 1st day of each month we'll be introducing you to the month's prompt and the books team members each plan to read, along with some other suggested reads we think you'll love. Of course, these are just ideas so please feel free to interpret the prompts however you wish!

We're also inviting you to share photos and mini-reviews of your book club picks on social media using #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for July is...  

A Book With A Map

What we'll be reading...

Erin's pick: Children Of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

"Whilst I don't read a huge amount of Fantasy I've heard amazing things about this book. When I recently found out that it includes a map I knew it would be perfect for this month's book club and I'm really looking forward to reading it!"

Anjali's pick: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

"I've actually read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson before, but it was about 10 years ago now (ohmygosh) and I've added it to my To Be Re-Read list for 2020. It's a bonus that it has a map in the front! I'm really looking forward to re-reading this one, and then getting into books 2 and 3, which I actually have never read."

Other suggested reads...

- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
- Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
- We Were Liars by E Lockhart
- The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
- Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
- Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
- Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
- Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
- Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales Of Food Love, edited by Elsie Chapman

For further ideas check out this post over on Book Riot.

Use the hashtag #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Book Club | June 2020 Roundup

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Our theme for June's book club was to read a book written by an author with the same initals as you. Here are a selection of the books chosen by Team BB and our readers...

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

"The Other Alcott tells the story of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's younger sister May, an aspiring artist and the inspiration behind Amy March. I picked up this book, having read Little Women earlier this year, as I thought that the concept was really interesting and whilst I enjoyed the idea of May trying to find her own voice and chasing her dream to become a successful artist, sadly, on the whole, the book just wasn't for me. Having said that, I found the author's note explaining how she came to tell this particular story and which parts were inspired by real events/people etc, an interesting addition." - Erin

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I found it really tricky finding a book to match this month's Book CLub theme - an author who shares your initials. Apparently there aren't too many A-Ks out there.⁠ ⁠ But I settled on a book I've been meaning to read for a while (the joys of book club!): These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.⁠ ⁠ Are you joining us for Blogger's Bookshelf Book Club this month? What are you reading? - Anjali (@anjalikay)⁠ ⁠ You can find the link to the June Book Club post on the blog in our profile.⁠ ⁠ ----------⁠ ⁠ ⁠ #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookclub #bloggersbookshelf #instabooks #reading #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #booklovers #shareyourbooks #books #bookworm #readingchallenge #bbloggersbookclub #thesebrokenstars

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These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

"Like I mentioned in the above Instagram post on Blogger's Bookshelf, I really struggled to find my initials this month! Luckily, I remembered I had These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman (and Meagan Spooner, but her initials don't match mine) on my shelf which I was keen to read. I've had it for a while now, so it was a joy to finally have an excuse to pick it up (not that I should have needed one, but you know, so many books). Overall I did really enjoy it! Science Fiction usually isn't my jam as a book genre, but I found it really worked for this book and I want to read the next ones now!" - Anjali

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer 

"Joining the rest of the book community wanting to reread Twilight before Midnight Sun came out. It’s been I think around 10 years since I read it so I don’t really remember all the storyline. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it although that was very much ignoring the whole Edwards a creepy stalker... have talked for like 3 days ‘Bella you are my life now’ what a weight on your shoulders!" - Sophie

We'll be introducing July's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back! Use the hashtag #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini-reviews with us throughout the month.
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Saturday, 27 June 2020

Features | 10 Of My Favourite Reads Of The Year So Far

As we are now halfway through 2020 (and hopefully halfway to our reading goals!), I wanted to share 10 of my favourite reads of the year so far. Whilst I have re-read a few titles that I love, this list only includes books that were new to me in 2020, and I’ve kept them all in order of date read. It goes without saying that I would highly recommend picking up copies of any of these books if you haven’t read them yet.

1. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My January book club pick for our prompt ‘by an author you love’ was After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book follows Lauren and Ryan who, after growing apart, decide to take a year out of their marriage in an attempt to find their way back to each other. Whilst I had expected to enjoy the book, I didn’t know I would love it as much as I did. It ended up being an easy 5-star rating and a great start to my reading year.

2. Meat Market by Juno Dawson

I’ve been a fan of Juno Dawson’s writing for years and her 2019 release Meat Market certainly didn’t disappoint. Tackling the darker side of the fashion industry, this novel follows Jana as she unexpectedly becomes a model and has to navigate her way through this unfamiliar and often scary situation. The book is formatted as Jana telling her story for a documentary which I really loved. Side note; I recently ordered a copy of Dawson’s latest release Wonderland and I can't wait to read it!

3. No Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is the only non-fiction title to make this list but it was the easiest 5-star rating of the year so far. The book focuses on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative and in particular the story of Walter McMillian, a black man who was sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman; a crime that he did not commit. The work that Bryan Stevenson and the EJI have done, and are continuing to do, is incredibly inspiring and this book is such an important and informative read.

4. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Ria kindly gifted me a copy of Friday Black after it made her 2019 favourites list and I’m very grateful to her for doing so. This unique collection of twelve short stories was an amazing debut release that has stuck with me long after reading, and is a book I’m sure that I will revisit. I found it to be a captivating read and enjoyed the writing style so I’m also looking forward to reading any future releases from Adjei-Brenyah.

5. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Set in the same neighbourhood as Thomas’ brilliant debut, On The Come Up tells the story of aspiring rapper Bri. Having read and highly rated Angie Thomas’ first novel The Hate U Give I was excited to read this one too and wasn’t disappointed. I’m also looking forward to the release of Concrete Rose early next year, a new novel which tells the story of Maverick Carter, a name fans of The Hate U Give will recognise.

6. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Another book club pick to make this list is A Place For Us, my choice for the February prompt ‘a tree or leaf on the cover’. The story is centred around an Indian-American family living in the US and switches between past and present, as well as different character’s perspectives, to explore their complex relationships. This is not an action-packed book but instead takes you on a quieter journey which I really enjoyed.

7. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Inspired by the events of the LA Riots in the early 90’s and the fatal shooting of Latasha Harlins, Your House Will Pay tells the story of two families, one African American and one Korean American, connected by the tragic death of a teenage girl. Having not heard much about it previously, I had no idea what to expect from this novel but it was an intense, heartbreaking and well-written read. The story has stuck in my mind ever since I finished reading it in March and I’m already planning on re-reading it sometime in future.

8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

During the earlier part of the lockdown period here in the UK, I ended up reading several YA contemporaries in close succession. Having enjoyed most of them it wasn’t easy to choose which one/s should make this list but I felt that My Life Next Door was the one that stuck in my mind the most. This book, which tells the story of neighbouring families the Garretts and the Reeds, had been sitting unread on my Kindle for years, so I’m really glad I finally found time to read it.

9. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The second Taylor Jenkins Reid title to make the list is One True Loves, which I picked up for our May book club theme ‘a number in the title’. This book tells the story of Emma whose husband Jesse is tragically involved in a helicopter accident on their first wedding anniversary. Several years later Emma has managed to piece her life back together and is happily engaged to Sam, when she receives a phone call that changes everything. As with all of Jenkins Reid's novels the characters felt realistic and the story had a mix of heartbreaking and heartwarming moments.

10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale tells the heartbreaking and inspiring tale of Vianne and Isabelle, two sisters living in France during World War II and has been a hugely popular book within the book blogging community. I was captivated by this novel right from the start and thought it was engaging and well-written. I have been known to say that Historical Fiction isn't a genre that I typically go for and whilst this has been true in the past, I'm beginning to realise that perhaps it should be one I reach for more often.

Other books I’ve really enjoyed in 2020:
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Friday, 26 June 2020

Melt My Heart | Bethany Rutter | Review

Lily Rose loves her own fat body, but she can't shake the idea that no one would ever choose her over her gorgeous twin sister, Daisy - not when they could have the thin twin. That is, until she meets Cal...

This is Lily's summer of new things. It's her last summer in the lovely seaside town she grew up in before she leaves for university in the autumn and, although she should be excited, she can't quite bring herself to be. She's spending the summer working with her best friend, Cassie, at Cassie's parent's ice cream stand; doing one new thing every day to prepare herself for the shock of moving away; and she's met a cute boy, Cal, who for once actually likes her rather than her twin sister, Daisy. But that's exactly what starts to cause problems. How can Lily tell Daisy that she's dating Daisy's crush? And why isn't she as into Cal as she should be? 

On top of that, results day is looming, and with it the end of the summer and the biggest new thing, leaving behind Lily's beloved home, the streets of which are being covered in hateful anonymous posters; Daisy, who isn't happy that they'll be attending different universities; and Cassie, the only person Lily ever really wants to spend her time with. Then, of course, there's the fact that Lily is keeping a secret. One much more important than dating Cal. She's not actually sure she wants to go to university at all.

Melt My Heart is a story of self-discovery. Over the course of one summer Lily is confronted with a lot of truths to face and decisions of how she will deal with them, and although these choices may overwhelm Lily, the narrative doesn't feel bloated or overly complicated. Each piece of Lily's summer weaves together to show the ultimate lesson she must learn, that she needs to trust her own feelings. Readers who enjoy coming of age stories will find a lot to love in watching Lily grapple with both the new things she chooses and the ones that surprise her, and although the ending seems to come quickly, it is anything but unsatisfying.

As with the protagonist of Rutter's last book, No Big Deal, Lily is fat, and although she has insecurities related to that, which are exacerbated by her skinny twin sister, Daisy, making comments she doesn't always realise are hurtful, Lily never considers losing the weight, and the narrative never suggests that she should. The only thing Lily needs to change is to trust herself more, and once she does, she finds rewards that any reader will agree she deserves. This is an ideal book for teen readers who are still discovering themselves, as that is exactly who Lily is, confident in some ways, but still growing in many others. Once again, Bethany Rutter has created a protagonist who feels like a real teenager, with all the confusion, pain, and joy that entails.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley for review. All opinions expressed are the reviewer's own.
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Sunday, 14 June 2020

Bookish links #57

This month’s bookish links have been selected by Team BB in support of Black Lives Matter.

We recognise that there is so much more we can do as a team to educate ourselves and amplify black voices, and one way we can do so is by reading books and sharing recommendations with you here at BB. We must all continue to diversify our reading lists, keep listening, learning and sharing our support. Team BB are committed to doing so not just for now but for always, and hope that you will pledge to do the same.

Below you will find reading recommendations, blogs to follow and actions that you can take.

1. If you're looking to add to your TBR, we recommend this anti-racist reading list from Ibram X. Kendi shared over at The NY Times. You can also currently find the audiobook version of Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi for free on Spotify.

2. This beautiful illustration is packed full of non-fiction anti-racist books to add to your reading list.

3. This article over on The Guardian shares anti-racist books for children and teens...

4. and this post highlights 2020 releases by black authors featuring books from a variety of genres.

5. We also love this list of black authors to read in 2020 compiled by Megan over at The Spines.

6. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is another amazing book we highly recommend. You can find out more about the book and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative over on their website.

7. If you're keen to pick up copies of some of these recommended reads, please consider purchasing from a black-owned bookstore such as those listed here, here and here.

8. If you love poetry you'll enjoy this Instagram post featuring a list of amazing black UK poets.

9. Head over to The Black Curriculum website to find out more about their work and what you can do to help. You can also sign this petition to add more diverse books to GCSE reading lists in the UK.

10. If you are able to donate, please visit the People of Color in Publishing website to help support their work to make the publishing industry more diverse.

To conclude this month's edition of Bookish Links, we wanted to share some of our favourite bookstagram accounts. We're planning on making this a regular feature of the series going forward, so if you have any accounts you think Team BB and our readers need to see please let us know in the comments section below.

This month's beautiful bookstagram accounts to follow:
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