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, 15 February 2019

Features | The Great YA Romance Showdown of 2018

It's the day after Valentine's Day and love, I'm sure, is still in the air. Luckily for us all YA literature is full of swoon-worthy first loves and young romances, perfect for the holiday just been. But today I want to take you back all the way to two months ago. 2018 brought three well-loved YA romances to the big screen (or the... Netflix screen...) and today, of course, in the true spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm going to pit them against each other and make you pick your favourite. That's what Valentine's Day is all about, right?

In the red corner, Willowdean & Bo from Julie Murphy's Dumplin'. Dumplin' is less about Willowdean's love story with Bo and more about her love story with herself, but while Willowdean is learning to live with the loss of her aunt and learning to love every part of herself, Bo is always there, already loving Willowdean just as she is. It isn't just Bo who convinces Willowdean that she's perfect just the way she is but it sure does help that he never doubts it, or her.

In the blue corner (obviously), Simon & Blue (Blue is here represented by Simon's laptop just in case any of you reading this have yet to read the book or watch the film. You're welcome.) from Becky Albertalli's Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon and Blue may not know each other's identities for most of their novel but they understand each other and know each other's loves, worries, and secrets. The fact that they communicate anonymously over email means that they're free to tell each other everything they never tell anybody, and it means when they do eventually find out each other's true identities, they're already well on their way to falling in love.

And in... another corner. Green maybe? It's Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky from Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Lara Jean and Peter K's relationship may start on unusual terms but what begins as a way to make Peter's ex jealous and throw Lara Jean's real crush off the scent soon turns into real feelings, creeping up on both of them when they didn't expect it, and when they start to be honest with each other and themselves, that's when the magic really happens.

Now, of course the real aim of this post is to encourage you all to read the books these wonderful films are based on if you haven't already, but also it is definitely to pit these couples against each other and declare one the victor, so vote below for your OTP!

Who is your teenage dream of 2018?

Willowdean & Bo
Simon & Blue
Lara Jean & Peter K
Created with QuizMaker
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Friday, 1 February 2019

Enchantée | Gita Trelease | Review

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries - and magicians...

After the death of their parents, Camille is left alone to take care of her sister, whose health is suffering, and ward off her brother, whose vices have become a danger to them all. Life in 18th century Paris is not easy for the likes of Camille and her siblings and tensions between the rich and the poor have never been greater, but Camille has a rare talent. She is a magician. She uses her magic to turn discarded pieces of metal into coins, the spell holding just long enough for her to spend them and get away before the spell breaks and her trick is found out.

Camille's fake coins keep herself and her sister alive, but when her brother's gambling leads him into deeper and deeper trouble, Camille turns to a darker, far more difficult kind of magic to keep them safe. By day she is herself but at night she becomes the Baroness de la Fontaine, a regular at the court of Louis XVI, where Camille intends to use her magic in the gambling rooms to win enough money so she can move herself and her sister to safety. Camille has no love for the aristocrats of Versailles, and she soon finds out that it is a dangerous place to be a magician. Then, of course, back in Camille's real life, where she sheds the disguise of the Baroness de la Fontaine, there is a boy with a hot air balloon, who sees her for who she really is. It's not long before Camille's two lives begin to collide and Camille discovers that she is far from the only person hiding a secret at court.

In this reviewer's opinion, this novel has everything. The historical Parisian setting, the civil unrest, a charming inventor with a hot air balloon, the original court of frivolous socialites, palace intrigue, and more than a dash of magic. It's the perfect blend for a dazzlingly fun historical fantasy story but there is plenty of darkness too and Trelease combines the fear and the fun as effortlessly as she does the historical with the fantasy. Far more effortlessly than Camille combines her two opposing lives. In Camille's real life she faces the everyday hardships that led to the French revolution, and she despises the wealthy aristocrats who caused her late father to lose his printing business, but in her life as the Baroness de la Fontaine she begins to befriend some of those aristocrats, and to grapple with the fact that she enjoys their company far more than she ever would have expected.

Camille's story may be filled with magic, but her problems are very human, and it is impossible not to feel for her and her sister, and the friends Camille makes, who face not only a revolution that will change their way of life forever, but a scheme many of them aren't even aware they're a part of. Enchantée is an intoxicating read, every page full of magic and intrigue enough to keep the reader glued to the story until the very end. It's fast paced, exciting, and full of adventure. Trelease's writing makes it impossible to not feel a little swept away, if not by the glittering court of Versailles, then certainly by the dashing Lazare and his hot air balloon.

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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Book Club | February 2019 - Under 200 Pages

For our 2019 BB Book Club we've put together a printable list of twelve different prompts. 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 throughout the month using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for February is... Under 200 Pages

february bookshelf book club 2019

What we'll be reading...

This month we have three team members sharing their very different picks for our February prompt!

Erin's Pick: Starers by Nathan Robinson

"There were so many options on my list for this month's prompt but in the end I've decided to go for one that's been sitting on my Kindle for far too long. The premise of Starers, which features hypnotised strangers appearing outside a family home, sounds pretty Black Mirror-esque."

Anjali's Pick: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

"At only 186 pages, Stargirl is a short story about nonconformity. I'm looking forward to reading this one before the movie comes out later this year."

One of our team members has even picked a short book full of short stories too!

Ria's Pick: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

"I love me a good short story collection! So when I stumbled upon this and saw 1. it comes highly recommended by Roxanne Gay 2. has a great Kendrick Lamar as its epigraph I knew I had to pick it up and make it my February book club read."

Other suggested reads...

- Genesis (Bernard Beckett)
- We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
- The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)
- Resurrection Bay (Neal Shusterman)
- Broadcast (Liam Brown) - 2018 book club roundup
- We Have Always Lived In The Castle (Shirley Jackson)
- The Strange Library (Haruki Murakami) - review

Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
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Thursday, 31 January 2019

Book Club | January 2019 Roundup

And just like that the first month of our new-look book club concludes!

Thank you to everyone who shared photos and mini reviews over on social media throughout the month. We loved seeing how you interpreted our January prompt 'a roadtrip novel' and which books you were reading - we hope you enjoyed them!

Below are a selection of our favourite images and mini reviews shared over on Instagram - there will also be a roundup of photos in our latest newsletter which hits inboxes tomorrow morning.

The @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme this month was ‘road trip novels’ and I chose How To Be Bad for my pick. It follows three girls who borrow a car to drive across Florida, hoping to visit the boyfriend of one of the girls and escape a few of their individual problems, but of course driving for hours in a small car with two other people isn’t exactly the best way to avoid your problems. Especially if some of your problems are tangled up with the very people you’re travelling with. It’s a really fun story that deals with a couple of tough themes in a way that feels very real and very teenaged. Also there are alligators. What more could you want? - Next month’s theme is ‘novels under 200 pages’ and I’ll be reading The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, so keep your eyes peeled for my review of that one. 👀 - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #currentlyreading #instabooks #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #elockhart #laurenmyracle #sarahmylnowski #howtobebad #hotkeybooks
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Mosquitoland by David Arnold

"Mosquitoland is about Mim, a teenage girl who boards a greyhound bus in Jackson, Mississippi, and makes her way across America to Cleveland, Ohio. Along the way she meets various people, and writes letters to Isobel, where we learn a little more about her life, her parents' divorce and why Mim is on medication.
While I had heard good things about Mosquitoland, I did struggle to get through it. It wasn't quite the road tripping novel I had hoped for, nor was it a real page turner. However, it did have enjoyable parts here and there, and I liked the idea of the story. A 2.5 stars from me." - Anjali, @anjalikay



"I decided to re-read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour for our January book club. It had been over three years since I originally picked up this fun YA roadtrip novel and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed by my re-read. Whilst I had read the book before, there were so many little elements that I had forgotten about and, as always, I just loved the characters Matson created. Overall I enjoyed the book just as much on the second read and would definitely recommend picking it up for our October prompt 'written by an author with an alliterative name' if you didn't get a chance to read it in January." - Erin, @sawyerandscout

The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang

"My book club read follows the Wang family after the collapse of the patriarch, Charles Wang's, cosmetic's empire and consequent bankruptcy. Charles pulls his young kids, Grace and Andrew, out of their respective privileged, private schools, and hauls them and his second wife Barbara across the country on a road trip to upstate New York, where his eldest daughter, Saina, is currently hiding out after a nosedive in her own career as an artist.

The book flips between each family members' perspective, giving us each of their unique perspectives on the situation, as well as their perception of what it means to make it in America. Whilst none of the characters are particularly likable (Saina and Grace are the only two I warmed to) it was super interesting to see how the family dynamic changes when literally all of their material possessions are ripped away from them overnight." - Ria, @rcagz

For the @bloggersbookshelf 2019 reading challenge for the January road trip novel prompt I chose to read “The Wangs vs. The World” by Jade Chang. Charles Wang, the patriarch of the Wang family, cosmetic empire crashes and the family wealth disappears. Arrogant and mad, he makes a rash decision to take his second wife (Barbra), pull his daughter (Grace) out of private school, and his son (Andrew) our of university to road trip to New York where Charles’ eldest daughter, Saina, lives; hoping her trust fund has not been affected. The trip brings the family together and each character (even the car!) gives their narrative throughout the novel. I felt invested in the characters, though they were not always likeable. I liked the pacing of the novel. This wasn’t as hilarious as I expected but it felt rambunctious. “In the end, all we had were the people to whom we were beholden.” . . . . #2019reads #readinggoals #bloggersbookshelf #bloggersbook #bookshelfbookclub #readingchallenge2019
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Currently Reading • The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder • Bloggers Bookshelf Book Club Pick January - A roadtrip novel • "Hannah and Zoe haven't had much in their lives, but they've always and each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she need to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah's beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything - their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college- behind them. As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life's intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence- things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness." • • • • • #bookstagrammer #book #bookstagram #themuseumofintangiblethings #wendywunder #currentlyreading #readingrightnow #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookclub #roadtrip #penguinteen #penguinbooks #razorbill #razorbillbooks #usedbook #thriftbooks #librarybook
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We'll be introducing February's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back!

Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month.

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Norse Mythology | Neil Gaiman | BBC Radio 4 | Dramatised Audio Book | Review

Friday, 25 January 2019

Norse Mythology | Neil Gaiman | BBC Radio 4 | Dramatised Audio Book | Review

Image from BBC
“Of course it was Loki. It's always Loki.” 

I've seen enough Marvel films to know at least a little about Norse mythology, and I managed to briefly have a look at it in my high school and university years. But I have yet to read a book about the myths of Scandinavia, despite having ancestors from Norway. I've been meaning to pick up Norse Mythology the book ever since it came out, but alas, so many books to read, it just hasn't happened yet.

This past week I was scrolling through Twitter, as one does, and I saw a tweet from Neil Gaiman about a BBC Radio 4 Dramatised version of Norse Mythology which was available online until today (you could follow up with that and see if it's still available...). I saw it was only 1.5 hours long, and thought it was the perfect way to use up some time. While the buffering was infuriating (probably my internet, and not the BBC website), I really did enjoyed this dramatised version.

The story of the Norse gods are told throughout the 1.5 hours by a woman who comes to the bedside of Magnus, a 7-year-old boy in hospital. She tells him the stories of Odin, Thor, Loki, Freya, the giants, the fairies, the 9 realms, and when she stops narrating, the characters themselves take over (hence 'dramatised') and really make it a joy to listen to. The stories are short and snappy, and I suspect they're much more drawn out in the book version. They give you a real snap-shot of what I'm sure are a brilliant retelling of Norse mythology.

The dramatised version has a great cast of actors in it, too, including Diana Rigg, Derek Jacobi, Natalie Dormer, Colin Morgan and Nathaniel Martello-White.

If you're into your mythology, love a bit of god-related drama, or want to learn a little more about where your favourite Marvel characters fit in the greater Norse mythology world, have a listen (I've found you can get it on Amazon) and let me know what you think!

If you're read the book, did you enjoy it? 
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Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Tangleweed and Brine | Deirdre Sullivan | Review

Long term readers of my reviews on here and over at This Northern Gal will be well aware of how much I love a good fairy tale retelling. I live and breathe for them. As such, when I saw Tangleweed and Brine in the bookshop, I knew I had to have it (and not just for that beautiful cover).

What I found inside that beautiful cover is a collection of stunning and sinister short stories. You can definitely tell that they have been inspired by fairy tales but they are woven together in new and exciting ways. There was something like magic in the words that Deirdre Sullivan crafted. Throughout the collection, themes such as betrayal, enchantment and change are explored in wonderful detail.

While I don't want to give away too much, I can point you in the direction of some of my favourites from Tangleweed and Brine. I loved Meet the Nameless Thing and Call it Friend, Ash Pale and The Tender Weight. They were utterly enchanting. They all come from familiar fairytales - though I'll let you guess which - but they were brilliantly novel.They were far darker than the original tales but still as captivating as your old favourites.

If you're a fan of Angela Carter or Jen Campbell, you need to check out these short stories. They're a perfect shot of magic for these cold winter evenings.

Kelly x
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