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We love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more, all penned by our team of six writers.

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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Group Collaboration | Fact Or Non-Fiction?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Group Collaboration | Fact Or Non-Fiction?

The focus of today's group post is based on something we don't often discuss here at BB, non-fiction reads! As a mainly fiction focused review blog we thought it would be interesting to find out what non-fiction books our team have read and enjoyed. What we've ended up with is a real mixture of titles including books covering travel, biography, psychology, film and more!

Here's the details on the books our readers & writers would recommend...

woods




A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering American on the Applachian Trail by Bill Bryson - chosen by Niina
'It's a really enjoyable and fun read about hiking, the Appalachian Trail and american wildlife. I recommend it to everyone who likes spending time in mother nature...'

notes



Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson - chosen by Laura C
'Having lived in both the US and UK, I have a deep appreciation for Bill Bryson's travel writing. This book, written as he makes a farewell tour of the UK before returning to live in the US, is by far one of the most accurate and hilarious accounts of British culture.'




Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler - chosen by Laura C
'I love a good biography and they come no better than this portrait of the man behind the Mouse. Expansive and meticulously researched, this is a remarkable insight into the life of Walt Disney and by far the best biography I have read.'




Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl - chosen by Anjali
'I don't read any non-fiction...at all, but I remember reading Boy, by Roald Dahl, when I was about 13, in high school. In it he says “An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and it is usually full of all sorts of boring details.” Except it's Roald Dahl - he's never boring. I remember enjoying it a lot, and though it never pushed me to read more non fiction, it did make me appreciate a fun, and well written, autobiography.'

bookshops




Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell - chosen by Erin
'Made up of short but ridiculous real-life conversations between booksellers and customers, this coffee table read is full of laugh out loud moments.'

woman




How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran - chosen by Ali
'An autobiographical exploration of feminism in modern day Britain. Moran brings out the humour, the horror and the joy of womanhood with no subject treated as taboo. Read it and pass it on to your best friend.'

swans




Wild Swans: Three Daughters Of China by Jung Chang - chosen by Laura C
'Tracing the existence of her family across three generations of women, Jung Chang offers an epic account of life in China before and during the rule of Mao Zedong. Beautiful, moving, and horrifying.'

coraline




Coraline: A Visual Companion by Stephen Jones - chosen by Erin
'Personally I find stop-motion animation fascinating and this book has lots of information and beautiful photographs detailing the long process of turning Coraline into a film. '

bible





The Bible - chosen by Lulu
'My fav nonfiction is the Bible as that's the word of God and I'm a born again Christian ☺'

memento



The Making Of Memento by James Mottram - chosen by Erin
'I really love reading books on film and this one in particular is an interesting read. Author James Mottram spent time on the set and takes the reader behind the scenes to share the experience.'



harry



Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli - chosen by Ria
'This may be the post-LeakyCon blues speaking, but I really think 'Harry...' is a wonderful look at the book series' journey, the people who made it such a success and the dedicated fans who loved the story itself. It's also a great look at parts of the fandom that you may not even realised existed and captures a moment in history that may never happen again.'

language



Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson - chosen by Ria
'I was recommended this book by my former English Language teacher for class, I begrudgingly read it thinking that it would be good revision for my A Level exams and what I found was a great book on how the English language developed, infused with Bryson's original witty humour.'

what type



What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are by Renee Baron - chosen by Niina
'This is a really informative, easy and fun introduction to anyone who's interested in learning more about personality types.'

stairs




Life Below Stairs: In the Victorian and Edwardian Country House by Sian Evans - chosen by Niina
'This is a must read for Downton Abbey fans. You get a whole new understanding for the different characters in the story. Easy to read and very informative! '



Don't forget BB is a place for reviews of books from all genres and we're always happy to feature non-fiction reviews alongside our vast collection of fiction ones. So, if factual books are more your thing and you'd like to share your favourites please drop us an email, we would love to hear from you!


Contributors: Laura C, Anjali, Lulu, Ali, Erin, Ria, Niina
Cover images: Goodreads


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Our next group post is all about those popular titles that we haven't read! We want to know which famous books you haven't gotten around to reading yet. Maybe they've been sitting on your shelf for years or perhaps just don't appeal to you - send us your opinions via Twitter (@blog_bookshelf) or email - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

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A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail | Bill Bryson | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail | Bill Bryson | Reviewed by Niina

walkinthewoods

“I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off.”  - Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

I saw A Walk in the Woods when I was looking for a non-fiction book to read during my vacation. After spending a lot of time in big cities (as I’ve done this summer) I always long for the nature. So I kind of thought that I could experience the Appalachian Trail through Bill Bryson (I don’t really have a few months to spend at the moment to experience it myself).

Yeah, I know, this is not supposed to be about why I bought this book. This is supposed to by about what I thought about it, so let's get started...

I’ve always enjoyed spending time in the nature and I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of doing some serious hiking so I thought that A Walk in the Woods would be an interesting insight to hiking. And I have to say that I truly enjoyed this book by Bill Bryson! It was funny, interesting and insightful. Bill Bryson shares his experience of planning and walking the Appalachian trail and he also shares a lot interesting and upsetting information about the wildlife and national parks in the United States. Even if Bryson touches some important and upsetting subjects, this is still mostly an easy and fast read. It’s funny and well-written and it makes me want to go out walk the trail myself. That's kind of weird considering that Bryson doesn’t describe it as the most pleasurable or easy thing to do.

Overall this was a fun and easy read, the perfect book to read during my vacation. But it was not only funny and easy, it was also insightful and I learned a few new things about American wildlife. If you’re interested in nature, wildlife, hiking or just enjoy a good and funny travel book I truly recommend A Walk in the Woods! And I’m definitely going to check out more of Bill Bryson’s books in the future!

So it’s time for me to give A Walk in the Woods some kind of rating. I always find it harder to rate non-fiction book because you naturally don’t feel as strongly for them as you do for really good fiction stories (at least I don't). It’s not because I enjoy fiction more, but it’s because I get more attached to the characters in a fictional story. And to be honest, I don’t have a lot of negative to say about A Walk in the Woods. It was a book that I really liked and enjoyed reading. But I still can’t say that I loved it that much that I’m going to carry it in my heart for the rest of my life and that’s almost needed for me to give a book 5 stars. So yeah, I’m making it easy for myself, I give A Walk in the Woods 4,5/5 stars! It was pretty awesome!

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.



4halfstars
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Guest Review | Cruel Summer | James Dawson

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Guest Review | Cruel Summer | James Dawson

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“He’d assumed Janey’s death was the finale. Turned out, it was only the beginning…’

Cruel Summer follows a group of friends as they reunite after a year for a group holiday in Spain. They’ve had a busy year - living their separate lives, preparing for their futures and trying to forget their pasts. They haven’t seen each other since the suicide of their friend, Janey. They are in the middle of enjoying their holiday and time together when an unexpected guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Janey’s suicide was in fact murder.

The novel deliberately follows the typical thriller stereotype, hitting every single nail on the head – even a creepy mask features! This is deliberate on Dawson’s part, taking one of his main voices obsession with playing the leading role and adding a slightly satirical note. The book is written in “scenes”, with each scene from the different points of view of the main characters. You would think this makes the storyline predictable but it’s really anything but. There are plenty of twists and turns in the storyline that keep you guessing right until the last chapter – which I promise you do not see coming. Even if you do figure out the ‘who’ (I flitted with the idea), you will not guess the ‘why’. The story stays at a relatively fast pace to keep up with all its twists and turns which meant I could not put it down and devoured it.

Being honest, I was totally prepared to not like this book. I found the first few pages, which is a flashback, hard to read and the initial premise incredibly annoying – a group of friends who get to jet off to Spain, stay in an expensive villa that one of their dads own, get drunk all the time… we all knew those people as teenagers, and did I want to read a novel about them? Heck no. But I was genuinely surprised by the amount of depth Dawson managed to give to these characters, and I found myself incredibly attached to them by the end of the book.

I was lucky enough to meet James at LeakyCon London, and he is a truly fantastic person so I am over the moon that I love this book. Most authors tend to lack on their second book out of three, but he genuinely writes so well (this book could easily be a how-to on descriptive writing) and I can’t wait to read his first novel Hollow Pike and his next, due in 2014.

With total confidence, Cruel Summer is a 5/5 from me, and is definitely now a favourite of mine.

This post was written by guest reviewer Kath
Book cover image via Goodreads

1 comment

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Last Song | Nicholas Sparks | Reviewed by Laura


Ronnie’s parents divorce, her Dad moves across the country, she haven’t seen him for since and three years later she’s angry, alienated and going off the rails.  That is until her Mum decided that she and her little brother are going to stay with him for the summer. It’s time to see if she can reconnect with her Dad and put the past behind her.

Now I think it’s obvious that i’ve become a bit of a Sparks fan and this was the last of his books sat on my ‘to-read’ shelf (for now anyway) and I couldn’t let it sit there any longer.  Within the first few pages I realised that this book had the typical Sparks style of writing and as I read further and found it had love and loss, grief, confusion and happiness of which I always find in his novels.

What was different about this book that I really like was that it was a story of growing up, becoming an adult and dealing with the issues life will throw at you. I got to watch (read) how Ronnie’s character developed, grew, changed and adapted as she grew as a person.

Ronnie was not the only character which I enjoyed in the book, I felt that almost every character had something that made me want to read more about them. Although Ronnie’s little brother has to be one of the most entertaining characters he’s so sweet.
I went off and watched the film too and did also enjoy it, it wasn’t quite what I expected especially for some of the casting but I did enjoy the adaptation.


Any Sparks fan would love this book, chic-lit readers or anyone who likes a good cry when reading a book.



5/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Glow | Amy Kathleen Ryan | Reviewed by Anjali



"Teenagers Waverly and Kieran believe their future is written in the stars. They are part of the first generation born in space. They are in love. They have never seen a stranger before...until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives."

This blurb from the back of the book, along with the description of Glow, by Amy Kathleen Ryan, on Good Reads intrigued me. Even though I love a good sci-fi movie, or tv show, I haven't ever really read may books that are set in space before. I thought it was about time.

Glow is the story of Waverly and Kieran, and the life threatening events that take place in their space ship home, the Empyrean. The ship is one of two that were sent from Earth decades ago, in the hopes that they would find a better planet to live on; New Earth. Waverly and Kieran are the eldest children on board and they have never known anything else. One day they are happy teenagers, in love with being in love, talking about getting married...the next they are torn apart. They are attacked, their ship half destroyed, their adults killed, stranded or left to die from radiation poisoning and lack of oxygen. The girls are taken away, or 'saved' as is the lie they are told, and are kept on the New Horizon, the other ship from earth. At first, Waverly thinks that Anne Mather and the people of the New Horizon have saved the girls from the attackers, and they are looking for the Empyrean with hope that the others are still alive...but soon she realises things are not right, and are not what they seem.

While Waverly is trying to figure out what is going on, and trying to keep all the younger girls from believing what Mather says, Kieran and all the boys are still on the Empyrean, trying to survive, trying to rescue some of the adults trapped on board. They face gravity issues, who-is-in-control issues, people are thrown in the brig, guns are used...

The story, though told in third person, alternates every chapter or so between Waverly and Kieran, which meant that we knew what was going on in both ships, around the same time. The writing style was simple, easy to read, and easy to follow, though the font was a bit annoying. Details, I guess. As characters go, I didn't really like any of the characters. I didn't 'bond' with any of them, or feel like if one of them died I, too, would die. I wouldn't care. They're dead. So be it. Although Waverly came across as stronger than the other girls, she still didn't make me feel for her, or want to her to do well. I didn't like Kieran in the beginning, then he got better, but at the end I disliked him more than at the start.

The story line was all right, but I didn't find it was very 'I need to know what happens next right now or I'll die', if you know what I mean. It took me a whole week to get through it,  I don't think I'll bother with the next one. I've given a two star rating (which, going with my usual Good Reads rating system, means 'It was okay'), but meh. Could have been better.


This post was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here.
Image from Good Reads. 


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LeakyCon 2013: A Magical And Literary Experience | By Ria

Saturday, 24 August 2013

LeakyCon 2013: A Magical And Literary Experience | By Ria

LeakyCon header
LeakyCon is a Harry Potter fan convention, established in 2009 by Leaky Cauldron webmistress , journalist and author Melissa Anelli. Their first run of conferences held in the US centred around the series, it's fandom and the positive messages of the books. Since then the size and scope of the convention has expanded at an astronomical rate, encompassing all kinds of popular culture, and more pointedly literature. 

This year at LeakyCon's ran their first European convention, held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in central London. Their focus was very much present on it's roots in the Harry Potter fandom with the celebration centred on the 15 year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts and dubbed by Anelli as the 15 year reunion for the fans. Though the focus was very much on Harry Potter, fans of Doctor Who, Supernatural, Glee, Games of Thrones, Nerdfighters, Team Starkid and so many more, were all attendees at the convention.

Close friend of the convention runners and YA author Maureen Johnson helped establish LeakyCon's Lit Track, a special pass for attendees to get the opportunity to meet authors, discuss writing and literature. 

This year's Lit Track came along sans Maureen (*sad face*) but there was still plenty on offer for those with passes to go along to. 
The authors present at this year's event included James Dawson, Laure Eve, Sally Gardner, Abigail Gibbs, Will Hill, Dawn O'Porter, Samantha Shannon, Elizabeth Wein and Matt Whyman, all of whom were the loveliest people ever and I was lucky enough to meet some of them all at the author's signing too. 
LitTrack autographs

As well as being their for book signings many of the authors participated in panels about writing. Due to the insane amount of scheduled events at Leaky I sadly only got to properly join in on a few of the panels, but the ones I did attend were amazing. The first, held on the Friday, was about 'Fear and Loathing in the writing process', the authors present discussed techniques breaking writer's block and shared what scares them the most about publishing a novel. It was reassuring to hear that even some of the most experienced YA authors suffered from the same anxieties about getting their work right as an amateur. 
The other panel dubbed 'Who needs school' focused on the authors, their academic (or in some cases non-academic) lives and whether a creative educational background helps you become an author. This panel was my favourite as it started on topic and ended up with conversations about side-jobs the authors did to supplement their career as novelists, conversations on writing under pen-names and pseudonyms and secrets I'm not allowed to reveal about certain authors writing for certain dancing dogs from BGT's autobiography...;)
The biggest panel of the LitTrack was open to the whole convention and had James Dawson and Dawn O'Porter debate Boys vs Girls: Who has it worse? I caught only the part of this one - damn scheduling again! - as the two debated topics centred around feminism. 
LitTrack panels
- LitTrack authors panel l-r moderator Rosianna and authors James Dawson, Matt Whyman, Samantha Shannon, Abigail Gibbs & Elizabeth Wein during the 'Who Needs School?' panel - Dawn O'Porter & James Dawson debate Girls vs Boys - 
As you can tell from the small amount of Lit programming I was actually able to attend - once again Ahhhh scheduling! - , LeakyCon ended up being a lot more hectic than I anticipated. With Harry Potter as the obvious starting point, literature, literary discussion and insane amount of creativity literature inspires ran on throughout the whole Convention.

Not to mention the awesome that was Waterstones Oxford Street - and the man behind their genius Twitter account! - set up a pop up shop on the fourth floor with all of the Lit authors books, John Green and Maureen Johnson's YA novels, and all of the Potter novels. They were even lovely enough to take orders for Leaky attendees and would bring them to the Convention the next day!
Waterstones pop up stall
Writing this post-Leaky has made me think of the impact Harry Potter as a literary series on so many people. It's been almost 6 years since the last Harry Potter book was released yet Rowling's work still stands to inspire every individual who was at the Convention. From the creative minds who run the Convention such as Melissa Anelli and Maureen Johnson, the special guests from the Potter films (including Evanna Lynch herself!), the 'crazy Internet famous' stars like Hank Green and Team Starkid, YouTubers like Lex (who was running Lit Day in Maureen's place) and Sanne (a.k.a BooksandQuills, who I managed to chat with brief at the Con!), the Lit Track authors and the Wizard Rockers. No matter how famous, no matter how old, or how dedicated, everyone was a fan at LeakyCon :) and they sum it up best in their Mission Statement...
We come from the Harry Potter fandom and celebrate everything about it, and everything about the pop culture fandoms our community is growing to include. LeakyCon is a place where fans can, finally, be their true selves. Where that’s the coolest thing in the world to be. - LeakyCon website
LeakyCon really was a fantastic experience and was actually a great opportunity to plug Blogger's Bookshelf too ;)
....hehe Mischief Managed!

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If you want to read more about my LeakyCon experience check out my round ups on my blog here and here, feel free to tweet me questions (@RCagz) about the Con or comment on here if you wanna know more!

This was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
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Earth Star | Janet Edwards | Reviewed by Erin

Friday, 23 August 2013

Earth Star | Janet Edwards | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley

earth girl and earth star 
Images via Goodreads


In order to discuss Earth Star this review will contain spoilers for Earth Girl (book one)! 

Earth Star is the second book in the 'Earth Girl' YA sci-fi series by debut British author Janet Edwards. The story follows 18 year old Jarra, one of the ‘handicapped’ who’s immune system means that she is forced to stay living on Earth whilst everyone else is able to portal between different worlds. In book one Jarra enrols on a history course and in an attempt to fit in and prove that ‘apes’ (as the handicapped are referred to) are just as capable as everyone else Jarra spins a story about being a Military kid to hide her real identity from her new classmates. Earth Star picks up just after the events of Earth Girl, where Jarra’s real identity has been revealed and she is about to start a new school term. However this term will be nothing like the first as Jarra and boyfriend Fian are soon drafted into the Military for real this time as part of the alien contact programme.

With the introduction of the alien plot line came hope for me as a reader. I found the pacing of Earth Girl, following Jarra's attempts to keep her secret, a little slow and was therefore looking for a more captivating and fast-paced tale this time round. Unfortunately the middle section of the book strays away from focusing on this particular element however the pacing and intriguing alien plot does pick up again for the last part, and despite being a little disappointed overall I did find that there were some great moments dotted throughout. The cliffhanger ending, again focusing on the alien plot, gives me hope that third book Earth Flight will be the best of the series.

As a main character and narrator I had mixed feelings about Jarra. In the first book I respected her determination to go after her dreams and to represent the ‘handicapped’ population by trying to prove to others that it wasn’t going to hold her back. On the other hand her know-it-all attitude and the fact that she was naturally good at everything did become a bit annoying after a while! The story is no different in Earth Star, Jarra is still awarded opportunities thanks to her extensive knowledge and leadership skills, for example although new to the military she is quickly promoted to Major. It wasn’t just Jarra though, despite finding the overall concept and ideas interesting I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters introduced which made it difficult to invest in their story.

Writing-wise there is some new ‘futuristic’ language used throughout both books with words like ‘zan’ and ‘nardle’ that instantly reminded me of ‘bubbly’ and ‘bogus’ in the world of the Uglies series. In addition I found the technology-based elements to be reminiscent of this series which is also very much a technology-based YA. Being a technology-based tale there is a lot of informative paragraphs accompanying scenes that include trips to archaeological dig sites which at times I found to be slightly overwhelming however if you love your stories to have a lot of world-building this may be the series for you.

Overall I found Earth Girl to be a bit of an underwhelming read and Earth Star a better one, but unfortunately, although I still think it has a lot of potential, not quite enough for me to love the series. However with the second instalment already receiving some great reviews on Goodreads I would definitely recommend this series to slightly younger (teen) readers, anyone who loves technology-based stories and fans of Scott Westerfeld’s popular Uglies series.

Earth Star was released just last week - find it here

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here


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Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Alexandra aka The Library Of Alexandra

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Alexandra aka The Library Of Alexandra

Welcome to another instalment of Being A Book Blogger! Today's interview is with the very lovely Alexandra who writes 'The Library Of Alexandra'. Here's what she had to say about favourite genres, the tougher side of reviewing and strong female characters...


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BB: Let's start off with introductions! Tell us a little bit about the girl behind 'The Library Of Alexandra' & how you got started as a book blogger

I originally started off blogging about my year abroad in England but quickly realized that I liked talking about books more! As an English Literature major and now a library science graduate student, I am immersed in books all the time. I thought it was only fair to share a little bit about what I learned!

BB: If you had to list your top three favourite reads of 2013 so far which books would make the cut?

If I absolutely had to pick I’d say The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

BB: Of all your reviews so far which are you most proud of, and which did you find the most difficult to write?

I’m most proud of my review for The Song of Achilles – probably because it was the most difficult to write. The language in that book is just so incredible and the story is so beautiful that I had a hard time putting my reaction into words. All of the drafts were worth it when Madeline Miller thanked me for reviewing!

alexandra interview


BB: If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life which one would you choose and why?

This is really really difficult! I generally have three books of differing genres going at any given time. More than anything I enjoy a good historical mystery, preferably set in the late 1800s. I’d really miss my YA and literary fiction though!

BB: Do you have any favourite book to film/tv adaptations?

I'll have to go with the quintessential answer and say Pride and Prejudice, both the BBC and Keira Knightley versions. I'm also partial to the adaptions of The Virgin Suicides, Call the Midwife and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline.

BB: Now for the fun questions! If you could invite 5 fictional characters to a dinner party who would you choose and why?

Pressia from Pure, Paige Mahoney from The Bone Season, Tris Prior from Divergent, Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games, and Tally Youngblood from Uglies. They're all such strong female characters that I'd love to just sit around and hear them talk about the future.

BB: Who is your 'book crush'?

Matthew Clairmont from A Discovery of Witches.

BB: Finally, are there any book blogs or YouTube channels you would like recommend to our readers?

BookRiot
Unputdownables
Katytastic
The Readables
BooksandQuills

Find Alexandra's blog here!

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Alexandra for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin 
Images via Alexandra & Goodreads


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Nocturnes | Kazuo Ishiguro | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 19 August 2013

Nocturnes | Kazuo Ishiguro | Reviewed by Ria

Nocturnes cover
From the author of Never Let Me Go and Remains of the day, Nocturnes is a collection of short stories centered around themes of music, the passing of time and love.
The five stories, in order are Crooner, Come Rain or Come Shine, Malvern Hills, Nocturne and Cellists, and the cycle of stories takes you around the world and visiting an array of characters, the majority of whom are musicians as well as those with an intimate connection with music.
'Crooner' is the story of a guitarist in the piazzas of Italy who one day meets his mother's favourite ageing musician Tony Gardner, who asks him to help him serenade his wife; 'Come Rain or Shine' catches one man as he visits his two college friends in slowly failing marriage; 'Malvern Hills' takes another musician living in his sister's cafe in between jobs and meets a couple who loves his music; a talented Sax player is the narrator of 'Nocturnes', he divorces his wife and decides to take plastic surgery and meets a famous actress whilst in recovery; and finally 'Cellists', back in the piazzas of Italy again, a young cellist meets a woman who claims to be a cello maestro who will help him improve his craft.
Nocturnes contents
So what’s my verdict?
I'm used to song cycles with musical theatre but story cycles are something very new to me, and I struggled getting into the stories at first. Ishiguro's style for me was hard enough to read when I started Never Let Me Go, but with a full length novel you have enough chapters to help establish this style as you read on. With short stories, I left each novel feeling a little unfulfilled but as I went through each story and saw the themes develop I actually found myself enjoying the last few stories. 
There's a melancholy to each story of loss and turbulent nature of love, and though you would expect music to play a prominent part in the stories - especially as this is the main draw of the blurb - it settles as a background character that flows quietly throughout the novel.
I do think this would be love/hate novel and my mind isn't made up yet as to whether I actually enjoyed reading this yet. It's a grower and, as I read each story in broken succession, I feel like this deserves a full on re-read to take in the full flow of the cycle.

Reading Soundtrack:
Everything Has Changed: Taylor Swift ft Ed Sheeran; Let Her Go: Passenger; Lean: Oh Land; All We Are: OneRepublic; Summer Is Over: Jon MacLaughlin ft Sara Barielles; Animal II: Charlene Kaye;

For lovers of…dreamy stories rooted in real life and Ishiguro's other work

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Ria, get to know more about her here!
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Blogger’s Bookshelf Review Round Up #10

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Blogger’s Bookshelf Review Round Up #10

14 7 14 8 review 
 Check it another review round up! Catch up on what you missed this month...
Also Amber from The Reading Addict and Emily from Afternoon Bookery joined the ranks of bloggers/vloggers featured in our 'Being A Book Blogger' series.

And finally our blogger's revisited the judging books by their covers debate and shared their favourite book covers with us. Check out the post here.

We're getting into a 'back to school' for September's group post as we're talking...
Favourite Non-Fiction! 

Let us know what your favourites are by email, tweet us or on our GoodReads page!
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Seraphina | Rachel Hartman | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Seraphina | Rachel Hartman | Reviewed by Niina

seraphina


“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.” - Rachel Hartman, Seraphina 

There's been peace between dragons and humans for forty years in the Kingdom of Goredd. But when a member of the royal family is murdered by something that seems to be a dragon questions and doubts awakes among many of the humans. Seraphina Dombegh is a musician working for the royal family who gets drawn into the investigation about the murder. She starts to unfold a secret plot that's supposed to destroy the forty year old peace. In the meanwhile she's also struggling with keeping her own dangerous secret from everyone around her...

I had read quite a few excellent reviews about Seraphina by Rachel Hartman when I decided to pick it up. So I have to admit that I had pretty high hopes regarding this novel. I was kind of hoping that Seraphina would be everything that I hoped Daugher of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor to be before I read it. Because I happen to be on of those few people who was a bit disappointed with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But enough about that, this review is supposed to be about Seraphina.

First of all I would like to say that Seraphina is a well-written book and that Rachel Hartman is a really good story-teller. I enjoyed the story-line in Seraphina and thought that many of the ideas and aspects in this story were really original. I especially liked the characters. I usually don’t care for the main characters in novels but I have to say that there was something about Seraphina that I really liked. She felt believable and complex and she was never too much. I liked that she wasn’t a person who only saw the world in black and white which is usually the case with main characters. There’s always something evil to fight but no one never seem to see the complexity of the situation or be able to see something from someone else’s perspective. But this is not the case with Seraphina. I also really liked many of the side characters. They were original, fun and believable. 

So I do think that Seraphina is young adult fantasy of high quality and I thought that it was an enjoyable reading experience (my favorite thing to say in my reviews..) It’s a well-written book that touches a lot of important subjects that could be transferred to our modern and real world. The characters are believable and relatable and the world-building is intelligent and original...But...There’s always a but isn’t there? 
I really struggled with the pacing in this book. To be totally honest, I felt like some parts were really slow. I felt like there were many parts in the book were nothing important was happening. I know, a book can't be action filled from start to finnish and I'm not asking for that, but I kind of want something to happen...At least most of the time. 

I do recommend Seraphina to people who enjoy this genre because I'm pretty sure many of you are going to love it and there's many reviews out there to prove it. But I just can't love a book  that makes me feel a bit bored from time to time. It's a good book, it's well-written and pretty original and I understand why so many people love it but it just didn't work for me. I guess that happens sometimes. I'm sorry Seraphina but I can't give you more than 3/5 stars (which isn't that bad anyway...)

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.



3stars
1 comment

Monday, 12 August 2013

Krazy Kow Saves the World - Well Almost | Jeremy Strong | Reviewed by Laura

Krazy Kow is a superhero and idea thought up by a young boy called Jamie Frink. He wants to turn Krazy Kow's adventures into a film but must overcome exploding strawberries, crazed toddlers and erratic footballs fans first. What could go wrong?!

This is a book by the well-known children's  writer Jeremy strong, it is humorous, entertaining and certainly keeps you on your toes. The books is actually two stories in one, the first being the tale of Jamie Frink who is trying to make his dreams of becoming a film director come true by making a film about Krazy Kow. The second ofcourse is the tale of Krazy Kow. Although I do felt that this worked really well in adding depth to the narrative if I went by feedback from the class I was reading this too, they really enjoyed listening to Krazy Kow's adventures but became a little distracted with Jamie Frink story. I enjoyed both but the target audience that I was reading were less enthusiastic about some chapters. 

The  story focuses on some real life environmental issues and ecological disasters which when read in the classroom could fuel some brilliant writing activities. Krazy Kow is a interesting and entertaining character, she's amusing but focuses on what is important - what could be more important than saving the world and eating strawberries?

What I liked about Jeremy Strong books is that although their are heaps of silly, humorous names and jokes for the target audience, there is also another level of humor which would go over their heads but not over the heads of a parent or teacher who is reading the book. 

I would recommend this book to parents, teachers and children 8+, it's entertaining and funny especially when read out loud, and who knows maybe the heat was distracting my class from the story. (As I certainly enjoyed it).


4/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Through the Ever Night | Veronica Rossi | Reviewed by Anjali




Warning: May contain spoilers

If you cast your mind back to May, you might remember that Niina reviewed Veronica Rossi's book, Under the Never Sky. Do go back and have a read of it. I, like Niina, really enjoyed that book, so when I finished reading it last week, I was straight into the next one. Today, I'm looking at that sequel, Through the Ever Night. If you haven't read it, but are planning too, be warned! This may contain spoilers.

Through the Ever Night picks up a few weeks after the events in Under the Never Sky. It continues the story of Aria and Perry, and their struggles and triumphs on the outside, in the wastelands. A quick recap: Aria is from inside a protective dome called Reverie, where she and her community have lived; Perry is an outsider, a Savage, who has grown up in the wild, in a tribe run by his father, then his brother. In Through the Ever Night, Perry is now the head of the tribe, the Tides, and is working hard to try and keep his people alive, while at the same time trying to figure out how to save his nephew, Talon, from his kidnappers at Reverie. Aria is trying to do the same thing, but by finding the Still Blue, a place of green grass and blue skies, free from the ever dangerous, ever lingering Aether storms that cover the sky. If she can find the Still Blue, the man holding Talon captive will do a trade; the location of the Still Blue for Talon.

The book, like the first one, is written in third person and also split into chapters that are told from Perry's perspective, and then chapters told from Aria's perspective. Although this was great in the first book, I think it worked really well in the second, as Perry and Aria spend a lot of time apart throughout the book. This book also introduces us to some new characters, some of which are intriguing and interesting, some of which you wish you could avoid.

With friendship and love, a boy who can play with the storm, a dog called Flea, the appearance of a character who was previously only talked about, and the eventual resolutions and answers to a whole lot of questions, Through the Ever Night, like Under the Never Sky, is a great read that will keep you turning the pages well into the night. It has quite a fast pace, and there isn't a dull moment. And at only 341 pages, you're bound to start and finish it super quickly. I'm really looking forward to the third instalment, Into the Still Blue, which comes out in January next year.


This post was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here.


1 comment
Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Emily aka Afternoon Bookery

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Emily aka Afternoon Bookery

Welcome back to Being A Book Blogger! This week's featured blog is Afternoon Bookery written by the lovely Emily. Here's what she had to say about bloggin, fictional dinner parties and more...


afterrrr


BB: For those readers who aren't already following 'Afternoon Bookery' could you tell us a little bit about the girl behind the blog & how you got started as a book blogger?

Hello! Im 22 and a book/lipstick lover, i spent alot of time watching book hauls on youtube and discovered people actually blogged about books, so i thought why not? Its my pride and joy my little blog!

BB: What is your favourite genre or type of book to read and review?

Chick lit, adult fiction and erotica are my main choices, but i am always looking for something completely different.

BB: Do you have any advice for those who are looking to start blogging?

Enjoy it, read what you want, delve in and get blogging, its as simple as that, if you wanna blog about it - do it.

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BB: If you had to list your favourite reads of 2013 so far which books would make the cut?

I really enjoyed the lovers dictionary by David Levithan, and ive really enjoyed the final book of the stark trilogy, i have not read anything stand out yet!

BB: If you were going to write your own novel what would you choose to write about?

Probably erotica, thats the genre i could read and write about, alot of smut gets read, especially after 50 shades etc.

BB: If you could invite 5 fictional characters to a dinner party who would you choose and why?

Hermione Granger, Celia & Marco (from the night circus) Allyson Healey & Gideon Cross. The first four are some of the most interesting characters i have come across, i have so many questions i want to ask them. Gideon Cross would be invited for a bit of eye candy!

BB: Finally, which other book blogs would you recommend to our readers?

Your own, obviously but i am a big fan of bookworms closet, and i love about happy books on youtube!

Find Emily online -
twitter; @emsmate_x
goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/9249067-emily
blog; www.afternoonbookery.blogspot.com 

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Emily for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin 
Images via Afternoon Bookery & Goodreads

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Data Runner | Sam A. Patel | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Data Runner | Sam A. Patel | Reviewed by Erin

 *Review of an eARC via Netgalley

data runner cover
 Image via Goodreads

“In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet… When a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance.” edited from source

Data Runner centres around a rather unique premise which combines the idea of hand delivering important information with the intriguing art of parkour. In this version of the future important information is carried by ‘data runners’ via chips embedded in their skin. But being a data runner is no easy job, with people out to intercept the information at any cost – including cutting off the arms of the runners – it’s a dangerous world to be a part of. Our protagonist, math genius Jack Nill, is thrown into this unpredictable world in a desperate attempt to earn enough to pay off his father’s gambling debts.

At first I found the book fairly difficult to get into, the first few chapters are a bit of an ‘info dump’ and to be honest were quite confusing. Due to the setup and initial take over of technology explanations, the action doesn’t really pickup until we head towards the halfway point of the book which for me is a little late. Having said that the ending of the book does provide an interesting setup for a sequel which will hopefully be a smoother read now that the technology has already been explained. Despite all of the information provided on the technology front something I felt was lacking was more on how the world came to be that way. Again, this is an element I expect will be explored further later in the series but I still think it needed a little more in this first book to make the world more believable and the overall read more enjoyable.

To me, Data Runner seemed to be aimed more toward young male readers due to the characters introduced and, although slightly stereotypical to say, the technology heavy plot. Although that means I’m not personally in the target audience, I actually think this is a really positive thing as a lot of YA series seem to be written more for a female audience.

Overall Data Runner is by no means a bad book, the concept is unique and intriguing however I didn’t feel like it really fulfilled its’ potential. The characters and story itself unfortunately just weren’t for me, but having said that I think it would make a great holiday read for teens this Summer, particularly those who enjoy sci-fi and technology based stories or have an interest in parkour.

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here

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The Maze Runner | James Dashner | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 5 August 2013

The Maze Runner | James Dashner | Reviewed by Ria

The-Maze-Runner
Imagine waking up in a concrete lift with no other memory of your name, before suddenly being deposited into a large courtyard completely surrounded by never-ending stone walls. 

This is Thomas’ story as he’s dumped in the middle of this strange place but he’s not alone. His new ‘home’ is already inhabited by a large group of teenage boys just like him, with no other memory other than their own names and their time within their mysterious surroundings, which they’ve nicknamed the Glade. These ‘Gladers’ have somehow made a life for themselves despite their circumstances and spend their days simply surviving – their food is delivered weekly by the same lift the boys arrive in - and trying to figure out the puzzle of the Maze that surrounds the Glade. The Maze is a horrifying place full of dark, ivy lined corridors and monstrous, disgusting creatures called Grievers, but it’s this little community’s mission to get out and if it means facing the deadly poison of the Grievers then so be it. 

Thomas barely has time to familiarise himself with his surroundings when the next day a box arrives delivering another new arrival, but for the first time…it’s a girl. This girl, called Teresa, has one message for the confused Gladers. She will be the last person to be delivered to the Glade, ever. 
Her arrival is only the beginning of a whole saga of action packed mystery, and follows Thomas and his companions as they try and battle their way out of the Maze before they go insane or worse. 

So what’s my verdict?
Told from Thomas’ point of view, the book lands the reader right in the middle of the action and confusion of being a Glader trying to get out of the Maze. Though Thomas’ wiped memory can be frustrating at times, it’s refreshing to read a Dystopian novel from the point of view where we know absolutely nothing of what’s happened to the outside world. Instead of revealing the ‘in’s and out’s’ of the world they live in the book reads almost like a detective novel, with the Gladers fitting the pieces of the puzzle together as the book progresses. There’s also the element of basic human survival and psychology between the members of the community, all of whom have completely different personalities and clash on many occasions. Then, of course, there’s the addition of Teresa. Being the only girl in a novel full of testorone is a tough feat to cope with but the ambiguity around her and her role in the Maze is definitely something interesting to see play out. 

Dashner’s writing style is quick and snappy. The chapters are short, with cliffhangers after each one leaving you wanting to keep turning the pages to get to the end of the book. This fits with the nature of the story, though can leave a reader needing to retrace their steps and check what just happened. That being said with Dystopian novels feeling like they’re dime-a-dozen nowadays, it’s definitely worth giving The Maze Runner a chance.

If you needed any other excuse to start this series, the film adaptation, starring Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) and Kaya Scodelario (Skins) as Thomas and Teresa respectively, has recently finished filming, not to mention there are already awesome stills and set photos from the movie surfacing as I speak. Get in there before the hype builds!

Reading Soundtrack:
I'm In Here: Sia; No Light, No Life: Florence + The Machine; Nowhere Left To Run: McFLY; Another Heart Calls: The All American Rejects; Careful: Paramore; Pyro: Kings Of Leon; Hysteria: Muse

For lovers of…The Hunger Games trilogy, Divergent & Lord of the Flies

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Ria, get to know more about her here!
1 comment
Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Book Covers

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Book Covers

Back in May we talked about how book covers influence, or in some cases don't, our reading choices and last month we revisted this theme by asking you to share your favourite covers with us.
Sadly there's no snazzy graphics for you this month...but since its about the beautiful book covers all I can do is go ahead and share the images with you! Here's what our bloggers chose...

covers laura
covers lulu
covers ria
covers laura c
covers anjali
covers erin

Don't forget to let us know what your favourite covers are in the comments!

Contributors: Ria, Laura, Laura C, Anjali, Lulu, Erin
Cover images: Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, Penguin Group

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Our next group post has a slight 'back to school' theme as we're talking favourite non-fiction! Most of our reviews here at BB are based around fiction but we thought it was about time we asked for your non-fiction recommendations too. Tell us about your favourites via Twitter (@blog_bookshelf) or email - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

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