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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.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Features | Looking Back On Our 2019 Book Club


Ahead of our first 2020 book club roundup later this week, I wanted to share a quick look back at some of the titles I chose for our 2019 prompts. 

1 re-read, 2 sequels, 3 audiobooks, 6 YA books, 8 authors I'd never read before, 9 library loans, 11 books published in the last decade, 14 titles in total

Across the year's prompts I read four 4-star titles, the first being a re-read of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (Morgan Matson) for January's 'a roadtrip novel', followed by Us Against You (Fredik Backman) for June's 'translated into your native language. It was another YA title that became my third 4-star book club pick with Malorie Blackman's popular novel Noughts & Crosses which I enjoyed so much I ended up immediately reading the next book in the series too! I rounded out the year by finding another 4-star read to match December's prompt 'judge a book by it's cover' which saw me pick up The Gifted School (Bruce Holsinger).

At the other end of the ratings scale I found a few titles I didn't enjoy so much, which matched up with some of the prompts I struggled with choosing titles for the most, including 'under 200 pages', 'with an animal or creature in the title' and 'by an author with an alliterative name'. I was also a little disappointed that I didn't enjoy my pick for 'from the Penguin Moderns collection' more as I had been looking forward to reading it.

Although I completed all of last year's prompts, looking back on the list as a whole I can see that I didn't always make the best choices when it came to the book club. Going forward into our 2020 prompts list I've been keeping this in mind, making sure that I'm planning ahead as much as possible when it comes to selecting books. Here's to a more successful lineup of book club picks for 2020!
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Friday, 17 January 2020

The Hunting Party | Lucy Foley | Review


All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

Seven friends head to a secluded estate in the Scottish highlands for their annual New Year's Eve trip. Within days, someone goes missing, and when a body is found, everyone becomes a suspect. Among the group of friends are Miranda, the beautiful one who loves to be at the centre of everything; her husband Julien; her best friend since school, Katie; Nick and his boyfriend, Bo; Samira, her husband, Giles, and their newborn baby, Priya; and Mark and his girlfriend, the newest to group, Emma. It's Emma's turn to organise the group's New Year's Eve trip and, being the newest member of a group who have all known each other since their days at Oxford, she's keen to impress, and sure that the beautiful, modern lodge she has rented for the trip will be just the thing.

There are a few hiccups in Emma's plan, not least the unexpected Icelandic couple who are also staying at the lodge, despite the fact that Emma was promised their group would have the place to themselves, but the bigger issue by far is the glut of secrets being kept and tensions held, barely hidden beneath the surface of the groups' decade old friendships. Told via multiple points of view, the story unfolds both on the day the body is found and through flashbacks to the days leading up to the disappearance, slowly revealing first the suspects, and then the victim, until the threads that have held these friends together over the years are finally pulled taught enough to snap.

The Hunting Party is equal parts a murder mystery and an exploration of the kinds of harm we can do to those we love, aside from the obvious murder. This group of friends, bound together by marriage and more than a decade of shared memories, appears, from the very beginning, to be falling apart at the seams, grasping at an ease they no longer really feel with one other. Emma is desperate to fit in, Miranda is clinging onto her old role as the life of the party, Katie feels excluded as the only singleton, and those are only the three friends whose versions of events we see through their points of view. The other point of view characters are Heather, the manager at the lodge who has run away from an unspoken tragedy, and Doug, the gamekeeper who harbours a dark secret.

Unlike most traditional murder mysteries, the question at the centre of this novel is not only who committed the crime but also who the victim was, and as the mystery slowly unfolds itself, other mysteries begin to appear. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes and the isolated setting of the Scottish Highlands in winter is almost enough to set the tone for an unsettling story all by itself. And that's before the tension between the friends is kicked up a notch by a hunting trip and the unfurling of secrets that can't quite stay contained now that the group are all together again after a year of sporadic contact. Every part of this novel is steeped in tension, and, thanks perhaps to the unlikeable nature of many of the characters, the draw of watching that tension unravel the tenuous bonds between the group of old friends is difficult to resist.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Features | A Year In Books - 2019


Since the beginning of 2018 I've kept a reading spreadsheet as a way to record my year in books so I thought it might be interesting to share a quick roundup from 2019.

According to my (possibly not very reliable) mathematics skills, I read a total of over 21,000 pages in 2019, including my longest read of the year American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. I also became an avid audiobook listener in 2019, with audiobooks totalling over 170 hours at normal speed (although I usually choose to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed!). Books I thought worked particularly well in audiobook format included Bridget Jones's Diary, Daisy Jones & the Six, The Rest Of The Story and They Both Die At The End.

Only 28% of the books I read were actually published in 2019, but since I didn't end up buying a single book all year it's more than I had expected! My most read genres were YA and Contemporary, and thanks to downloading Borrow Box my top formats were audiobooks and ebooks. Audiobook subscriptions can be expensive, especially if you get through a lot of books in a year, so I'd highly recommend this app if your local library uses it.

As well as sharing my overall top 5 reads of the year here on BB, I also mark my favourite book from each month on my spreadsheet, leading to the twelve titles listed above. Two of the titles (Harry Potter and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour) were re-reads, two were sequels to books I had previously enjoyed (Wilde About The Girl and Us Against You) and four were written by authors I had never read before.

My best reading month of the year ended up being November, with 14 books completed, although 4 of which I had started before November 1st. Choosing my top read from this month was pretty tricky as there were three 4 star titles (Naturally Tan, Genesis and The Toll) as well as a 4.5 star read (The Rest Of The Story), however I just loved They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera in audiobook format so much that I ended up rating it 5 stars.

One thing I would love to see change in 2020 is my average rating. Currently I'm not very good at DNFing (I just don't like to give up on books!) but I think this could really help increase the number from a 3.5, closer to a 4. I've actually decided to experiment with making another change when it comes to ratings in 2020... but more on that in another post!
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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Bookish Links #52


1. Is one of your favourite books becoming a movie this year? Check out Jamie's post to find out.

2. We loved following Michelle's bookish content in 2019 and look forward to hearing about her 2020 reads!

3. Did you catch this list of recommendations from Barack Obama?

4. This quick quiz from Epic Reads will reveal which celebrity you would share a bookshelf with.

5. A list of amazing audiobooks to add to your 2020 TBRs!

6. Kelly reviewed 'Some Kids I Taught & What They Taught Me' over on her personal blog.

7. A bunch of beautiful books.

8. Amy shared her top picks from Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine book club.

9. If you're looking to add to your enamel pin collection in 2020 you'll love this post.

10. Books and food; what's not to love?
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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Group Collaboration | Books We Vow To Read In 2020

Once again it's that time of year where we share the books we 'vow to read' over the next twelve months. As always, we've each chosen five different titles spanning various genres. If you've read any of these titles, or have made your own list for 2020, let us know!
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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Book Club | January 2020 - Written By An Author You Love

january banner

Happy new year everyone! We're diving straight into our first 2020 book club prompt today.

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 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 January is....  

Written By An Author You Love


 

What we'll be reading...


Erin's Pick: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Two of my 2019 5-star reads were written by Taylor Jenkins Reid so it's no surprise I've decided to go with another one of her books for our January prompt. My library doesn't have a copy of After I Do, but since I didn't buy any books at all in 2019 I thought it was about time I treat myself to a title from my TBR."

Anjali's Pick: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

"Neal Shusterman is a fantastic writer and I've loved all the books that I've read by him so far. Really looking forward to reading The Toll, the final in the Arc Of A Scythe series."

Other Suggested Reads...

As we can't suggest specific titles for this month's prompt, instead we have compiled a short list of authors who have been popular with our team members over the years.
- Rainbow Rowell
- Juno Dawson
- John Green
- Nicholas Sparks
- Neal Shusterman
- V E Schwab
- Maureen Johnson

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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