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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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2016 Reading Challenge | Update #1

Saturday, 30 April 2016

2016 Reading Challenge | Update #1

Back in January we shared our brand new reading goals for the year ahead. Somehow we're already a third of the way through the year (!) so we thought it would be a great time to share a little update...

Anjali... 13/40 books read | 0/5 books vowed to read
Yikes. While I've read quite a few books already (Good Reads tells me I'm 2 books ahead of schedule), I haven't read any from my Vow to Read list yet. My favourite book so far this year has probably been The Bane Chronicles, probably just because he's one of my favourite characters in Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter world. Another great book so far was Glass Sword, by Victoria Aveyard.
books 1

Cat... 3/5 books vowed to read
I have read three of my five vowed to read books, ‘In all the bright places’ Jennifer Niven, ‘In a Dark Dark Wood’ Ruth Ware and ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Jenny Han, and absolutely loved them all! They were each completely different genres and I found them all to be absorbing reads. I definitely plan to read my final two vowed to read books soon.

Ria... 9/30 books read | 1/5 books vowed to read
According to Goodreads I'm actually on track, which feels weird as I thought I'd hit a slump. I have managed to tick of Remix of my yearly TBR list and have just started How To Be A Heroine, which I'm thoroughly enjoying so far. Let's hope the momentum can keep going for the rest of the year!

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Erin... 1/5 books vowed to read
I picked up one of my five non-fiction 'vowed to read' books, The 100 Most Pointless Arguments In the World (Alexander Armstrong & Richard Osman), back in February as part of the #5books7days readathon - and managed to finish reading it before it got too chewed up by my rabbit Squidge! I've also made a start on two more of the titles, Forensics (Val McDermid) & What If? (Randall Munroe).

So that's how we're getting on with our 2016 reading challenges so far. We'll be checking in again throughout the year, so keep an eye out for updates!

Don't forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you've been getting on with your own reading goals and challenges for 2016!
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Friday, 29 April 2016

Features | Genres That Aren't Genres


I was talking to a writer friend of mine on Twitter recently about how frustrating it is when people refer to YA as a genre and it soon turned into us joking about the other 'genres' out there that aren't really genres. YA is, perhaps, the most frequent victim of this particular kind of misunderstanding. Young Adult is an age group, and within it there are books of so many different genres, but I guess because it has its own section in the bookshop and a lot of the same themes show up across the different genres, people get confused. Still, it isn't its own genre.

Worse than this though, in my opinion, is 'Women's Fiction'. What is Women's Fiction? Is it fiction written by women? Are Jane Eyre, The Secret History, and Murder on the Orient Express all Women's Fiction? Or is Women's Fiction books written for women? This makes even less sense to me because, as we all really know, not all women like the same things, and there is nothing stopping anyone who isn't a woman from enjoying things that are traditionally thought of as 'for women'.

Of course we all know that what Women's Fiction really means is 'Romance Fiction', like it's physically impossible for men to read or write romance. I have never seen anyone refer to David Nicholls as a writer of Women's Fiction but I can't help but wonder, if One Day had been written by a women, would it be classified as Women's Fiction?

Then there's LGBT Fiction. This one I do understand as there just aren't as many novels that feature LGBT protagonists as there should be, and a lot of readers want a way to easily find those that do. But again, is this actually a genre? Or is it, like Young Adult and Women's Fiction, really a marketing target group? Surely a lot of LGBT books could also be classified in genres like Romance, or Literary, or any of the other genres that actually are genres? Maybe if more writers wrote books with LGBT protagonists, that would be the case. Maybe in the future it will be.

What do you think? Do you think I'm wrong and that any of these are and should be genres? Are there any more 'genres that aren't genres' that annoy you as much as Women's Fiction clearly annoys me? Let me know in the comments!
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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Feature | John Green Reading Soundtracks


Reading many of John Green's books I always felt his stories lend themselves well to churning up a fantastic cinematic scores and after the release of TFIOS we definitely saw how much the movie's soundtrack played a role in creating the atmosphere for the film. The Paper Towns soundtrack is just as awesome, and with Looking For Alaska (potentially) on the horizon I'm definitely excited to see how the musical direction of the movies corresponds to the themes of the book.

You may remember our fab June group post last year, where our contributors created reading playlists to accompany some of their favourite novels. Off the back of that I thought I'd get musically creative and make up my own reading soundtracks for all of John Green's novels. I won't bore you with plot summaries too much (they're all on GoodReads if you haven't read these yet!), but I'll let the music do the talking for the theme, feel and journey of each story

Looking For Alaska
"...if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” 



Paper Towns 
“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” 


An Abundance of Katherines 
“Here's to all the places we went. And all the places we'll go. And here's to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou”


Will Grayson/Will Grayson
“Some people have lives; some people have music.”


The Fault In Our Stars
“You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” 


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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Bookish Links #17


Welcome to another Bookish Links; the monthly post where we share some of our favourite blog post, articles, videos and more from around the web. Get ready to do some reading!...

1. Your Next Read - looking for your next favourite book? Look no further than this great roundup from My Kind Of Book, which showcases seven recent and upcoming releases which all look amazing.

2. An Upcoming Adaptation? - it was announced last month that Lionsgate have purchased the rights to Emily Henry's YA debut The Love The Split The World. Have you read the novel? Who would you love to see cast in the adaptation?

3. Why Reading? - we delved into the blogging archives of Team BB's very own Anjali to find this next article where she discussed a question we are all often asked; why do you read so much?

4. A Novel Chat - if you're looking for a new podcast to add to your playlist why not try out this YA-focused offering from Aneequah, Willa and Emily - we've loved the episodes so far and can't wait for more!

5. Fairytale Fantasy - Rachel's review has us convinced we need to pick up a copy of The Shadow Queen ASAP!

6. The Visuals - Gillian shared an interesting article on how she is a very visual reader. Can you relate, or do you not picture the details when you read?

7. House Pride! - we're huge Harry Potter fans here at BB so when we saw Jess' recent post we couldn't help but include it in the roundup! Here she shares book recommendations based on Hogwarts houses - which house are you in?

8. Book Blogger Traits - Shannon shared 10 signs you're a book blogger, including our favourite; having more shelfies than selfies! How many of these can you relate to, and what else would you add to the list?

9. Binge-Reading - looking for a series you just won't be able to put down? Brittany has some great ideas to add to your list. Question is, which one should you pick up first?!

10. Daisy, Daisy - our final post this time around is this list of 7 YA heroines Star Wars' Daisy Ridley could portray. Which of these roles do you think she should be perfect for?

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!
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Friday, 22 April 2016

Cruel Crown | Victoria Aveyard | Review

I received this book from Hachette Publishing New Zealand, 
in exchange for an honest review. 


Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.


Books 0.1 and 0.2 of the Red Queen series, the two novellas in this book are Queen Song, the story of Queen Coriane, a Silver, and the first wife of King Tiberius, and Steel Scars, which tells of Farley, a Red, and her journey to meet Mare Barrow, the heroine of the Red Queen series. 

In Queen Song we meet Queen Coriane,  as she keeps a diary of her relationship with the crown prince, the birth of her son Cal, and the dramas of a life in the Royal court. 

In Steel Scars, Diana Farley is a strong fighting woman, scouring the country for people to join in her in the first attempt at an attack on the capital. Along the way she meets Mare Barrow - a girl with lighting who may change the entire operation. 

Both of these are very short stories - novellas - but they were really neat to read, and get a better understanding of the characters. While Coriane isn't in Red Queen or it's sequel Glass Sword, she is always mentioned. It was really great to be able to jump back in time and see what she went through and really what her story was, even if we only got a little snap shot of that. 

I did enjoy Coriane's story more than Farley - but that's possibly because all we had heard of Coriane was what other characters had told us, and Farley is one of the main characters by the time we get to Glass Sword, and she's not a character that I really care too much about. Coriane's story, however, was a great insight into a slightly different era in the capital. Also, I think I like Coriane more because she likes books. 

"There is nothing so terrible as a story untold."

So is Cruel Crown worth a read? If you're enjoying the Red Queen series and want some more insight into the characters, then definitely grab a copy. However, like most novellas, it's not too important to the story as a whole, as is certainly just a fun addition to already great novels. If you do read them, let me know what you think! 


Image from Goodreads

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Cinder | Marissa Meyer | Guest Review

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Cinder | Marissa Meyer | Guest Review

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Like everybody else, I was familiar with the hype of Marissa Meyer's series The Lunar Chronicles. It seemed that any self-respecting book-lover had read the series and adored it, and couldn't stop raving about it. I didn't know what to think, but knew I should probably try the books for myself before forming an opinion. Fate stepped in and, having given my vast book wishlist to two different people, they both decided to give me this book out of all the others! If that's not telling me I NEED to read it, then I don't know what is. As I had two copies, I donated one to somebody who agreed to "buddy-read" the novel with me. Thus began my experience.

The story follows Linh Cinder living in New Beijing. The futuristic world is a different place. There are cyborgs, people who have been surgically altered to have android body parts, amended nervous systems, retina displays. They are seen by society as lower-class citizens and many people fear to go near them, or let children play in their vicinity. Cinder is a mechanic with a booth in the centre of the city, earning a little money for fixing androids, "portscreens", anything technological. She has an android companion, Iko, who is a good friend. Cinder's stepmother Adri behaves awfully towards her, disgusted by her presence. Cinder also has two stepsisters. Have you figured out that we're re-telling Cinderella yet?

One day Cinder has a special visitor to her booth, Prince Kai, son of the Emperor of the Commonwealth. He has an android he needs fixing, but Cinder desperately wants to hide her cyborg parts from him. On the same day, the plague is found in another booth owner, who is swiftly dispatched for "the quarantines". The plague has no cure and spreads viciously, and all people must try to avoid it. Of course, Cinder gets caught up in something bigger than herself or the Commonwealth, and finds out much about her mysterious past - she has no memory before the age of 11 when she was in an accident and had to be turned into a cyborg.

It turns out I love this book! I never thought I'd dislike it, I just went in with an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Meyer's writing is compelling, and I found this novel unputdownable, which has not happened to me for a long time! I could not stop reading. I'm afraid I outpaced my buddy reader! As each new secret or gripping scene unfolded, I was dying to find out the next step of the story. I have to say that I figured out Cinder's big secret about halfway through the novel, once we were given all the strands to piece things together, but this didn't make the book boring for me. In fact, it made me read faster, anxious to find out what would happen next to reach the dramatic conclusion/explanation/revelation!

I am definitely going to continue on with the series. I loved the fantasy world building, the realistic relationships, the imagination shown in the writing. I enjoyed Cinder as a protagonist, and thought her reactions were reasonable, plausible, and fitting for someone in her situation. I grew rather attached to her and her worries. She's not a whiny teenage girl with a crush. We leave that to her more unpalatable stepsister! This is a recommended read, please try it. :)

★★★★★

This review was submitted by guest blogger Jemma.
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Planet Janitor | Chris Stevenson | Review

Monday, 18 April 2016

Planet Janitor | Chris Stevenson | Review

*Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Captain Zachary Crowe (Zaz) created the small company Planet Janitor. Their mission is usually space salvage, though they sometimes help environmental surveys of new planets. Unfortunately, for all the accolades they get, Planet Janitor has an equal amount of condemnations. Hoping to improve his crew's reputation, Zaz agrees to space jump mission that will take 25 Earth years and will lay the foundation for the colonization of a new planet. Once they get there, however, the crew sees nothing but evidence of the genocide of an entire species (literally, bones everywhere). After a few days, the crew meets up with the creatures responsible for the genocide and suddenly this simple job has become a survival scenario.


Review:

This book ended up being a lot more of a mystery/thriller than I thought it would be. The mystery of the dangerous creatures and revelation of their background really threw me for a loop. And those creatures were also incredibly scary. There were some scenes that left a strong enough impression to make me hesitate to turn off the lights. All without any really gruesomely detailed scenes. There is mention of blood and guts, but nothing to really churn the stomach.

The cast of characters were equally engaging. Everyone had their place, their role to play, even the seemingly useless stowaway. The crew interact well together, with one or two exceptions that were stress induced. The characters are creative and intelligent and, most importantly, know how to get themselves out of bad situations. 

When I was first contacted about Planet Janitor, I was told about its strong comparisons to Firefly. Admittedly, it was difficult not to picture Carl, the self-proclaimed doctor of pyrotechnics, as Jayne and Zaz certainly shares several of Mal's noble attributes, but I feel like this book/world is strong enough to stand on its own. Especially since, in this world, there was no major war (Alliance vs Independents) and much of this book takes place on the same planet. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. There is humor, mystery, scares and more. If you're interested in Sci-Fi Survival stories, this is definitely the book for you. I highly recommend giving Planet Janitor a read.
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Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Debut Novels

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Debut Novels

This month we're celebrating the arrival of Spring by sharing our favourite debut novels! Below you'll find 14 top picks from Blogger's Bookshelf writers and readers... don't forget to leave us a comment and let us know which debuts would make your list!

april group 008 april group 007 april group 001 group april 004 april group 006 group april 003 april group 009 april group 002 april group 005

Thank you to this month's contributors: Anjali, Cat, Becca, Ria, Rachel & Erin

Next month we're talking Intimidating Reads! If you'd like to get involved just email bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or drop us a tweet @blog_bookshelf!
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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Features | Shakespearean Adaptations

The 23rd of April this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, so today I want to share with you all a few of my favourite Shakespearean adaptations. The stories Shakespeare wrote transcend the period in which they were written by saying something about human nature that will always be true, and that's why there are so many retellings and why the stories can be re-told in so many different ways. So if you think Shakespeare isn't for you, then maybe you just haven't found the right kind of retelling yet, and maybe I can help with that.

The Classic

Much Ado About Nothing (1993) dir. Kenneth Branagh

This version of one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedic love stories (absolutely one for you if you're into the enemies-to-lovers trope) sticks pretty closely to the original play script and has lots of excellent costumes for those of us who love a good period film, but it also brings a liveliness to the source material that makes you forget that what you're hearing isn't the English we speak now and lets the story shine through the sometimes difficult language. I actually watched this version of Much Ado About Nothing when I was studying the script at university and I can't tell you how much it helped me to understand what I was reading. Also, please watch this hilarious trailer for the film here. What we put up with in the 90s...

The High School Retelling

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) dir. Gil Junger 

Another 90s classic, although only just. I'm sure you've all already watched 10 Things I Hate About You but if you haven't then please allow me to convince you! This high school reimagining of The Taming of the Shrew is one of my personal all-time favourite movies. Julia Stiles's badass Kat and Heath Ledger's mysterious Patrick make the perfect high school pairing and if you're more into contemporary YA than historical romance then this could be the perfect Shakespeare adaptation for you. Another notable mention for this category is She's The Man - a 2006 retelling of Twelfth Night that is not quite as good as 10 Things I Hate About You (to be fair, few films are) but still a lot of fun.

The Webseries

Nothing Much To Do and Lovely Little Losers (2014-2015)

Nothing Much To Do is, as you may have guessed, another retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, this time told via vlogs from the bedrooms of the main characters, who are now teenagers at a school called Messina High in New Zealand. For a bonus the people who made Nothing Much To Do also made a sequel, Lovely Little Losers, which is a slightly loser interpretation of Love's Labour's Lost, featuring some of the characters from Nothing Much To Do plus a few new faces. Both webseries are excellent and the format probably makes them about as modern a retelling as you can get! You can watch Nothing Much To Do here and Lovely Little Losers here.

The Modern Twist

Romeo + Juliet (1996) dir. Baz Luhrmann

The nineties was a good time for Shakespearean adaptations. Baz Luhrmann's approach to Romeo + Juliet is quite interesting and personally, I would love to see more of this kind of thing. Luhrmann transports the action to modern-day Miami but keeps a lot of the dialogue of the original play, meaning that although the Capulets and the Montagues fight with guns and drive convertibles, the speech actually sticks incredibly closely to the original script, providing an excellent juxtaposition of old and new, and meaning that this is totally 100% a viable version to watch if you're studying Romeo and Juliet at school. Tell your teacher I said so.

The Zombie Story

Warm Bodies (2013) dir. Jonathan Levine

Warm Bodies is actually based on a book of the same name by Isaac Marion (which is also excellent) but as the rest of these are films/webseries I thought I'd stick to the trend and recommend the movie version. Warm Bodies is another retelling of Romeo and Juliet, except this time there are zombies. The main character R is a zombie who can't remember anything of his pre-zombie life and the story follows his steadily growing friendship with Julie, a human, and the ripples their friendship causes among both humans and zombies. So, you can see where they're going with that. Although Warm Bodies is a lot of fun, it does stray pretty far from the original source material so I'm afraid this definitely is not one to watch if you're studying the script. Sorry to break it to you, but there are no zombies in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Which, let's be honest, is why Warm Bodies is so good.

I'd love to hear your recommendations for Shakespearean adaptations in the comments!
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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bookish Links #16


Welcome to April's first edition of Bookish Links, the monthly post where we share some of our favourite blog post, articles, videos and more from around the web. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and take a look at what we've been enjoying lately...

1. Bookish Prizes - the lovely Jennie over at The Book Journal has been sharing lots of posts on book prizes lately, and we've been loving her round ups!

2. Sharing The Library Love - we loved Heather's chatty video all about libraries. Do you use your local library? Let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comments section!

3. 'Strong Female Characters' - this interesting article from Amber over at The Mile Long Bookshelf will have you thinking twice before you use this particular term in your future reviews. What are your thoughts on the topic?

4. Blitz Your TBR - if you need some tips on organising your reading for the rest of the year, Bee's post has you covered. Check out her ten easy steps, including our favourite - buddy reads!

5. A Gift Idea - we love this print from taryndraws Etsy store, which would be the perfect gift for your favourite bookworm! It would look great framed on your bookshelf or displayed in your favourite reading nook.

6. World Book Day Roundup! - last month saw the latest World Book Day and in celebration Stacey shared mini reviews of the releases, including titles by two of our favourite authors Rainbow Rowell & Juno Dawson!

7. Dressed To Impress - we loved Alexa's post which pairs beautiful book covers designed by Anna Bond with equally beautiful dresses! Which one is your favourite? We think we'd have to go for the dark red Alice-inspired number!

8. Reading Regularly - if you're looking to build a regular reading routine, check out Leanne's great list of tips. There's always a way to fit more reading into your daily routine!

9. Bookish Delights! - we really enjoyed Jamie's list of book-related experiences she loves, including the smell of a new book and finding underrated gems! Which 'delights' would make your list?

10. Speed Read - how fast do you read? In this post Alise talks about the downside to being a fast reader. Can you relate to these issues?

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!   
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Press Start to Play | Daniel H. Wilson | Review

Monday, 4 April 2016

Press Start to Play | Daniel H. Wilson | Review


Summary:

A collection of short stories with the central theme of video games. Stories are written by a combination of fiction authors and video game story writers. 

Review:

One of the things I love about anthologies is that I get introduced to new authors. After reading this anthology, I a large number books to my wishlist by almost every single author in this collection. The wide range of genres represented in this anthology (yes, they're not all sci-fi!) makes it feel like a great stepping stone to the types of books I wouldn't normally read. There were love stories, horror stories, mysteries and dramas. One of the scarier stories actually really freaked me out and I had put the book down for a while to fully recover. 

I know that one of the biggest draws people will probably have to this book is that one story is by Andy Weir (The Martian) and the foreword is by Ernest Cline (Ready Player One). Fortunately for the readers, every story in this book is entertaining, engaging, and well worth the money. This is a book that I would take with me to a desert island because of its re-readability. 

Even if you don't have a strong interest in gaming in general, I feel that there are plenty of stories in this collection that focused more on drama, love, humor, horror, etc. that you will find something you enjoy. Or, if you're trying to get a gamer to do some more reading, this may be a good book for them. 
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Friday, 1 April 2016

Features | 5 Funny Books.

In honour of April Fools' Day, today I am bringing you five very funny books, because, let's be honest, April Fools' Day is generally not very funny, but all of these books are!

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe

Love, Nina is a collection of the real letters that Nina Stibbe wrote to her sister while working as a nanny in the 1980s. From the two jokey little boys who Nina looks after, to her literary boss's amusing and well-known friends and neighbours, Nina has a lot of funny anecdotes for her sister, and at least one of her letters is bound to make you laugh out loud.

Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

Love in a Cold Climate is probably the most well known of Mitford's novels, despite the fact that it is actually a sequel to The Pursuit of Love, the first of Mitford's books concerning the Radletts of Alconleigh. Both books are excellent, and very funny, but I think Love in a Cold Climate beats The Pursuit of Love ever so slightly because the full cast of characters in this book are all just so much fun to read about.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's story of the end of the world gone wrong, is one of the most entertainingly written books I have ever read. The main characters include a demon whose car only plays Queen, an angel who works in a bookshop, and a small boy who is supposed to bring about the apocalypse but really just wants to play with his friends, and the whole story is narrated in a pitch perfect comedic style.

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

Starter for Ten is all about Brian, a first year uni student who desperately wants to appear on the TV quiz show University Challenge. However, although Brian may have a lot of general knowledge, he doesn't know a lot about actually interacting with people, especially girls, which leads to a few embarrassing situations. The good thing about Nicholls's writing though is that even when you're laughing at Brian's stupid mistakes, you still can't help but like him.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

I actually read Round Ireland with a Fridge, the true story of what happened when Tony Hawks hitchhiked around Ireland... with a fridge, over ten years ago and I don't remember many details but I do remember reading it at school one day during quiet reading time and my teacher shooting me questioning looks because I could not stop laughing out loud. That's definitely the sign of a funny book.

I would love to hear your recommendations for funny books in the comments!
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