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, 6 September 2019

Dumplin' | Julie Murphy | Review

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all. 
While Dumplin' has been out since 2015, it was only this past month that I got around to picking it up. Perhaps I was prompted by the Netflix movie and wanting to see that but read the book first, or the fact that I was given Puddin' by Julie Murphy and wanted to read Dumplin' before getting stuck into Puddin' (although I don't think it matters if you read them in order). Whatever the reason, I finally picked it up.

This was a really sweet book, and the description above pretty much says it all. Dumplin' was a fun read, and overall I enjoyed it. There were definitely parts that I was really annoyed about (Willowdean has long periods of not talking to two different characters, and the reasons behind her decision and anger were a touch on the ridiculous side), and there was a whole thing with 'mums' in the book that I got super confused about when both the author and the characters are American (and so therefore say 'Mom'). That was, however, until I did some Googling and discovered that a 'mum' is a Texan homecoming thing, and not just the British spelling of 'mom'.

While the book had it's moments of ridiculousness, it also had plenty of 'naw' moments and you were definitely cheering for Will the whole time. I can safely say that I can now watch the film.

Have you read Dumplin'? What did you think? 
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Sunday, 1 September 2019

Book Club | September 2019 - Also A Movie Or TV Show

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 using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for September is... Also A Movie Or TV Show

What we'll be reading...

Erin's Pick: Dexter In The Dark by Jeff Lindsay

"When we selected the prompts for 2019's book club, I thought September's theme would be an easy one but I actually found it quite difficult to choose a title for this month. I've already read a handful of books that would've worked earlier in the year so probably should have timed my library loans better! Instead I've opted to read a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a while (read: years). I started reading the Dexter series back in 2013 so it's about time I moved on to book three! "

Anjali's Pick: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

"This will be a re-read for me, but it's one that I've been wanting to pick up again ever since I read for the first time. I re-read the first in this duology, Six of Crows, a month or so back so am really looking forward to continuing with the story (again). While not strictly speaking a book that has been made into a show or movie yet, the whole Grishaverse created by Bardugo is in the process of being turned into a TV show. This is going to include the characters and story lines from this duology and also the Shadow and Bone series. It's still very early days, but boy am I looking forward to it (but also really hope they don't muck it up!!)."

Other suggested reads...

- The Book Thief (Markus Zuzak) - review
- Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan) - review
- Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) - review
- The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas) - review
- Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) - review
- Wonder (RJ Palacio) - review
- To All The Boys I've Loved Before (Jenny Han) - review
- You (Caroline Kepnes)
- About A Boy (Nick Hornby) - review
- Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) - 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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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Book Club | August 2019 Roundup

It's book club roundup time again, and we have a short and sweet one for you this month! Here are a few of the books shared for our August theme 'water on the cover'...

I missed a couple of months of the @bloggersbookshelf book club but I’m back with A Year of Marvellous Ways for this month’s theme: books with water on the cover. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a little bit difficult to describe. It’s about an 89 year old woman called Marvellous Ways, a 27 year old soldier called Francis Drake, their lives, their friendship, the sea, and magic. It’s an unusual novel, one which I’m sure has charmed a lot of people and will continue to for a long time to come. It charmed me in places too but unfortunately the parts I liked and the parts I didn’t seemed to even out, leaving me with an opinion as hard to put into words as the story itself. Still, if you like unusual, literary novels with a splash of whimsy and magic, this is probably a good one to look in to! - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookreview #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #tea #teastagram #cupoftea #acupoftea #teatime #timefortea #abookandacupoftea #acupofteaandabook
A post shared by Anastasia Gammon (@stasialikescakes) on

Summer Of Salt By Katrina Leno

"I really wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I'd heard really good things about it. The world and characters created by Leno were certainly intriguing and I also liked both the unique setting of By-the-Sea and the addition of magical elements. Overall Summer Of Salt was an enjoyable read." - Erin

We Were Liars By E Lockhart

"If you're after a story about family, friends, love and adventure, manipulation and lies, complete with a thousand questions about what really happened to Cady the Summer of 15, then grab a copy of this book." - from Anjali's recent review

We'll be introducing September's book club theme 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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Friday, 23 August 2019

We Were Liars | E. Lockhart | Review

The perfect pick for August's Book Club Theme: A book with water on the cover! 

In We Were Liars, Cadence Sinclair is the eldest granddaughter to a millionaire, and heir to his a private island, where she and her extended family spend every summer. Each year Cady goes to Beachlands; she and The Liars - her cousins Johnny and Merrin, and friend Gat - swim, explore, go in the boats across to the town, play with the younger children, avoid family fights and spend time between the family houses on the island. One year, 'Summer 15' - the summer they were all 15 - Cady awakes on the beach in nothing but her underclothes. The following months, Cady asks her mother just what happened that year- why she was alone on the beach at night, wearing barley anything, why her head hurts so much - and each day her mother tells her, but each day she forgets. Her migraines take over her life, and while the doctors give her medicine for them, they can't find the source, and put it down to head trauma from her accident.  

The following summer, Cady goes on a trip around Europe with her father, missing her time with her friends on the island. 'Summer 17', she returns to the island with her mother, only to find her grandfather's house gone, a huge fancy one in its place. While the Liars comment on her change of hair, and worry about her headaches, they are the same to Cady despite them not returning her emails for the past 2 years. The summer continues, her friends seeming to go off a lot without her while she wallows in her bed, clutching her head in pain.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I feel I can't say too much without giving crucial parts away, but it was full of interesting characters and personalities, first loves and heart aches, full of insanely-rich-family drama, and adventures around what sounds like an amazing island. It was well written (and well read), from the perspective of Cadence, and the only reason I didn't give it a 5 star rating was because I called what happened long before Cady did, and I felt like the end chapters were a bit too drawn out.  

If you're after a story about family, friends, love and adventure, manipulation and lies, complete with a thousand questions about what really happened to Cady the Summer of 15, then grab a copy of this book. Considering it won the Goodreads Choice Aware in 2014, you know it's going to be a good one, right? 

Have you read We Were Liars

Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash; Book cover from Goodreads
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Friday, 16 August 2019

A Sky Painted Gold | Laura Wood | Review

As Lou is swept into the Cardew siblings' dazzling world of moonlit parties, unrivalled glamour, and whispered secrets, can she stay true to her self... and her heart?

Lou has always been fascinated by the grand Cardew house, standing empty on the small island across the causeway from her tiny Cornish village. So fascinated, in fact, that she often walks, or swims at high tide, across to the island to pick apples from the orchard, or, more recently, to sneak in through a broken window and read Agatha Christie novels from the house's vast library, or to write her own detective stories in her notebook. With the Cardew family never visiting their Cornish home, Lou has found it the perfect place to get away from  her many siblings for a few hours, and enjoy the quiet of the big house. Until, of course, the Cardews return, and Lou is almost caught redhanded.

Luckily for Lou, the Cardew siblings, Robert and Caitlin, don't seem to mind that she has been breaking into their house, and she soon finds herself in their inner circle, invited to all of Caitlin's grand parties, and even with her own bedroom in the house. Caitlin and Lou fast become friends, but things are more difficult with Robert, the lord of the house, who Lou finds more than a little rude. Lou is charmed by the house and by the Cardews' life, and it isn't long before she finds herself spending more time on the island sunbathing with Caitlin and bickering with Robert, than she does back at home with her newly married sister, Alice. As the summer goes on, Lou has to face the fact that eventually Caitlin and Robert will return to London, and she'll need to decide what her life will look like when those grand parties end.

A Sky Painted Gold is a perfect summer read. Lou's story is filled with the kind of glamour you might expect from a novel that takes place in a grand house in the 1920s, but it also has the heart and depth to back up that shining facade. Lou sees her sister Alice, happily married to her childhood sweetheart and, worried that that is the path expected of her too, throws herself into the escapism of the Cardews' lives, but, of course, she eventually learns that throwing these lavish parties is a kind of escapism for Caitlin too. Lou is sympathetic and, at times, naive, but she cares so deeply for the people around her that this, in turn, makes it impossible for the reader not to care about her. Even as Lou begins to worry that she might be little more than a novelty among her new friends, she still only wants to help them, even as it starts to damage her relationship with her own sister.

There is romance of more than one kind in this story, and Wood addresses many of the issues that faced young people of Lou's time, and still do today, but ultimately this is a true coming-of-age story, and amongst the fun and the frivolity and possible falling in love, Lou must really decide what she wants her life to be. She cannot party with the Cardews forever but she does not necessarily want to follow Alice down the aisle right away, either, and if there is one thing she learns from the Cardews it is that she can only put off thinking about it for so long. It is a delight to read about Lou's summer with the Cardews, truly a summer of self-discovery, and it is certainly a story that I will read again and again.
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Friday, 2 August 2019

No Big Deal | Bethany Rutter | Review

'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.'

Emily Daly is seventeen years old. She is funny and smart, she likes fashion and music, and she is fat. Emily likes her body and doesn't see why anyone else should have a problem with it, but Emily's mum is obsessed with dieting and desperate for Emily to join in with her newest diet plan, no matter how much Emily refuses. Although Emily knows she doesn't need to lose weight to be happy, doubts begin to crawl in when a boy rejects her at a party, seemingly because of her size, and are intensified when her best friend, Camila, a fellow fat girl, returns from holiday newly confident and newly thin.

Then there's Joe. Joe who likes the music Emily likes, and is possibly the cutest boy Emily has ever seen, and seems to like spending time with her too. Is it possible that he might like her the way she likes him? No matter how confident Emily is, it isn't always easy to ignore the fact that so many people seem to think she'd be happier if she lost weight, or the worry that Joe might not like her unless she does. With this new world of dating comes new insecurities, and the biggest challenge of all - remembering to love herself too.

No Big Deal feels like a UKYA classic in the making. It has the humour, heart, and authenticity that readers can expect from a contemporary YA story set in the UK, and a protagonist it is impossible not to root for, with a cast of friends and family to back her up. It is a fairly short read, with the pace to match, and will, I suspect, be read and re-read again and again by its fans. As a protagonist, Emily is a breath of fresh air: confident, self-assured in her own beliefs, but still with the realistic wobbles that all teenagers, no matter how confident, can certainly relate to. No Big Deal deals with important themes but, perhaps more importantly, it does so in a way that feels fun and, at times, intimate, in a very good way. It would be difficult for any adult to read Emily's story and not remember what it felt like to be seventeen, or for any seventeen year old to read it and not relate to some of Emily's struggles.

Rutter addresses a lot of issues facing teens, and everyone else, in No Big Deal, and, at times, yes, a few of these conversations can seem to have little to do with the plot at large, but they are important conversations to be having, not just for young people, and it is no small thing to see them had in a book for teenagers, at the heart of which is a simple message of loving, respecting, and trusting oneself. No Big Deal is the book I wish I had had as a teenager and Emily Daly is a protagonist all readers should look forward to meeting. The real triumph of No Big Deal is Rutter's ability to reach out, through her words, and tell the reader that they are not alone, and that they do not need to change for anyone. A message we all need to hear once in a while.

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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