Saturday, 22 October 2016

Group Collaboration | Nightmare Moments

It's time for another collaborative post here at BB and in celebration of Halloween, this month's topic is Nightmare Moments! We asked our writers and readers to let us know which scenes from books left them sleeping with the lights on.

A quick note - there are some SPOILERS below, so please proceed with caution! 
Books included in the post are as follows: Necrotech, Before I Go To Sleep, Shadow & Bone, Matilda, Helter Skelter, World War Z.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Shadow and Bone | Leigh Bardugo | Review

“I've been waiting for you a long time, Alina" He said. "You and I are going to change the world.”

The Shadow Fold: a dark place full of even darker creatures who feed on human flesh. That's where orphans and best friends Alina and Mal are headed with a group of people. But when things don't go as planned, Alina is ripped from Mal and taken to the Darkling. He is the most powerful Grisha in the land, and he claims that she is the long awaited for Sun Summoner - the one who will help with rid the world of the Shadow Fold once and for all.

Alina didn't even know that she was Grisha, let alone have any confidence that she could do what she was asked. But as she starts her Grisha lessons, she learns more and more not only about the history of the land she lives in and the Grisha, but about herself. When things take a turn for the worst, Alina has to decide who to trust, who to run from, and how to save her world.

I.Loved.This.Book. There wasn't much I didn't like about Shadow and Bone. The world that Bardugo has created is incredible. I love the idea of the Shadow Fold and the dangers that lurk within, I love the idea of the Grisha, with their powers and their magical elements, I love map at the front of the book. Yes, dear friends, it has a map. Everything from the names of the cities and towns to the little worldly elements, was amazing and I definitely got sucked in.

The plot is one we've seen before - character doesn't realise they have power, they discover, they don't believe, they are actually the answer to saving the world, things go wrong, things go right, there's a love, there's a friend, there's a traitor, and sometimes there's a twist - but Bardugo has written it in such a way that the entire thing felt incredibly new. Not only her story line and the things that happened to Alina along the way, but the way she's written it is stunning. I loved reading every single word of it.

Alina was an enjoyable main character, and while there were moments of 'what are you doing, woman?! Don't do that!' I think it was partly that that made me like her. Mal was your typical best friend - the funny guy, the flirt-with-everyone-else-but-your-best-friend-who-actually-loves-you guy - and even when the Darkling showed up all sexy like and dark and mysterious, there was always a part of me rooting for Mal. Other minor characters were wonderful too, and completely added to the story. Another nod at Bardugo's great writing.

This is the first book in the Grisha series, which continues with Siege and Storm, and then Ruin and Rising. Set in the same world, but a new trilogy, Six of Crows came out last year, and just recently the second in that series, Crooked Kingdom, has been released. Looking forward to reading all of these, and if you're into YA fantasy, then this series is a must, and I am saying that with full confidence even though I've only read the first one. 

Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think? 

Image from Good Reads

Monday, 17 October 2016

Grave Predictions | Anthology | Review

 *Image and book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


This book is a collection of short stories, all of them previously published, about all the ways the world could end. 


I knew, going into this book, that there would be no happy endings in any of these stories. A handful of them I had read before (i.e. 2BRO2B) some others I had heard referenced before. But nothing could have prepared me for the almost overwhelming doom and gloom I ended up feeling. If you want to read this anthology of classic stories, I highly recommend that you have something cheerier to counter the depression and anxiety this book can inflict. 

The pacing of the stories seemed to be a good fit. Some stories are noticeably longer than others while others only seemed to be a few paragraphs. The editor did a good job of making sure they are in a readable order. I really only had problems getting interested in one of the longer stories (I'll admit I ended up skimming quite a bit of that one). 

Again, if you want to read it, I recommend have some kind of mood booster to help you out. This anthology really messed with me and my general mood. Read with caution. 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Features | Magic Outside Hogwarts

Aside from Halloween making it the official spookiest month of the year, October's dark, cold nights, slowly rolling in earlier and earlier each day also make it the perfect month for reading about witches and wizards and their magic arts. I'm sure a lot of people will be re-reading their favourite Harry Potter books this month but today I'm sharing a few of my favourite magical stories that don't take place inside the halls of Hogwarts, just in case you want to get your magic fix from someone other than The Boy Who Lived this year.

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

A classic children's book is always fun to revisit and I'm sure many people who grew up in the UK in the 90s will definitely be familiar with The Worst Witch. Mildred Hubble isn't a naturally gifted witch like another female wizarding school pupil I could mention, but if she was then she wouldn't have to face the mishaps that make her story so charming! Plus, I hear they're remaking the television show soon, so now is a perfect time to get reacquainted with Miss Cackle's Academy.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire on the other hand offers a far more grown up version of a magic school in Wicked. I'm sure you're familiar with the musical based on the novel, and almost certainly with The Wizard of Oz, from which Maguire look his inspiration, but the novel itself tells an even darker story of the life of one of the most famous witches in literary history. True, there are no songs in the book, but if you're interested in political commentary of a world where animals can talk and The Emerald City is the centre of all then this is the novel for you.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Another absolute classic of children's literature. Roald Dahl's witches are not clumsy school girls or ambitious young women, but scary, square footed, old witches who plan to do away with all children! We all know Roald Dahl never worried about frightening children with his stories and I have a friend who is still to this day pretty scared of Dahl's witches, so I feel okay in saying that between these pages might just be some of the scariest witches in children's literature.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Not witches or wizards, but Gentlemen Magicians, the title characters of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell emerge in England during King George III's reign with very different ideas of what a magician should be. Mr Norrell believes in a scholarly pursuit but his student, Jonathan Strange, thinks that practical magic is the surest way to help the British defeat Napoleon. Then there is the matter of a pact Norrell did not mean to make with a creature neither of the magicians can control. This is a long book at over 1000 pages but definitely a good one.

The Once & Future King by T.H. White

And last but not least, of course, the ultimate magician: Merlin. The twinkly eyed Merlin of T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone (The first, and arguably best, part of The Once & Future King), who teaches the young boy, Arthur, everything he will need to know to be king, long before he even learns that he is to be one, by transforming him into bird and fish and a whole host of other animals that they cut out of the Disney movie. There's a reason that Dumbledore and Merlin kind of resemble each other, you know? Ultimate wizards.

I'd love to hear your recommendations for books about witches, and wizards, and magicians, and any other word we can think of for 'magic-user' in the comments!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Features | Super Thursday Round Up

Book releases here in the UK at least usually happen on a Tuesday or Thursday. The odd exception does occur (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released on a Sunday to coincide with Harry Potter's birthday), but generally books stick to those rules.

On Thursday just gone (6th October), there were tons of new releases. I've heard the term Super Thursday being used by some in the community, which I think is a really apt name. So for today's post here on Blogger's Bookshelf, I thought I'd round up some of the releases from Thursday that I'm most excited to read.

  1. The Last Beginning by Lauren James. Back in 2015, Lauren released The Next Together, which was really one of, if not my favourite release of 2015. It was her debut and it was stunning. It told the tale of Katherine and Matthew, a couple destined to be born, meet, fall in love and die. The first book was told from four different timescales, each of which Katherine and Matthew are in and each of which they fall in love. The Last Beginning is the follow up, where Clove is trying to hunt down her relatives Kate and Matt who disappeared after a scandal sixteen years ago. I am definitely excited to read this, I bought a copy this week and I can't wait to get started.
  2. Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven. Again, another book from an author whose first book I loved too. Jennifer's first book, All The Bright Places, featured "a girl who learned to live from a boy who wanted to die." Nearly two years on and Jennifer is now writing the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the book. Holding Up The Universe is a book featuring a new pair of characters; Libby and Jack. Libby was once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen,' but nobody looks past that to see who she really is. Jack has mastered the art of fitting in, but people also assume they know everything about him, when really he can't recognise people's faces. I'm also very excited to read this new book too, it sounds like a really great novel and I know from other bloggers that it is an incredible book.
  3. Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason. The anticipated follow up to the first Garvie Smith novel, Simon has come back with a second book. DI Singh is back and he's investigating a boy who's been shot from the Marsh Academy, and he's determined to keep Garvie, who knows where to look for the answers, away. Running Girl was really highly acclaimed, so I am also really looking forward to reading this too.
  4. Replica by Lauren Oliver. The New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver is back with her brand new book, which is actually two stories in one book (read it one way for Lyra's story, read it the other for Gemma's story), which is described as a book "that explores the issues of individuality, identity, and humanity." It sounds like a really unique book (though one that is slightly hard to explain!), but I highly recommend you check Lauren's works out.
There were many other releases on Thursday, from Susin Nielsen (author of We Are All Made Of Molecules), Amy Ewing, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Catherine Johnson, Liz Kessler, Marcus Sedgwick, Piers Torday, Lucy Strange and so many others so if you haven't yet found yourself in a bookstore then what are you waiting for? Go and check out the amazing titles released on Thursday and who knows? Perhaps you'll even find your new favourite book.